When teeth first erupt, we need to brush to remove bacteria. As we get older, we add flossing to our oral hygiene routine. Flossing helps by removing food debris and bacteria where the bristles of the toothbrush can’t reach. Brushing and flossing help prevent cavities and also gum diseases.

Gingivitis and periodontitis are both inflammation of the gums caused by bacteria and plaque. Dental plaque must be removed everyday to prevent infections.

Gingivitis is a gum disease that is usually painless. It causes inflammation in the gums and also slight bleeding when you brush and/or floss. It may cause bad breath and redness to the gums. Gingivitis is a gum disease that is easily reversible. In very little time, gingivitis can be prevented and treated. To prevent or cure gingivitis, you need to see your dental hygienist and dentist for a good cleaning and examination regularly. You also need to brush and floss everyday using good technique and a good toothbrush. A special mouthwash may be recommended by your dental hygienist or dentist at your cleaning appointment to help with gingivitis.

Periodontitis is a gum disease that is much more aggressive than gingivitis. Periodontitis is characterized by bleeding of the gums while brushing and flossing. Your gums may be red-purplish in color. Inflammation of your gums and bad breath may also be indicators of periodontitis. Destruction of your periodontium (the specialized tissues surrounding and supporting your teeth) is taking place when periodontitis is active. When bacteria get into the part of the gum that is not attached to the tooth, the bone and ligaments that surround your teeth may deteriorate. This causes deep pockets to form in-between the teeth and the gums. These pockets allow bacteria to accumulate and cause more inflammation and destruction. In some cases, the bone level is so low that you have to have teeth extracted because they become mobile.

The treatment:

In order to treat periodontitis, you need to consult your dentist and your dental hygienist. The disease is diagnosed with x-rays and an examination. Once the disease is diagnosed, a deep cleaning is often suggested. This deep cleaning will be done under local anesthetic to reduce the sensitivity. Many tools may be used during the cleaning; curettes, ultrasonic scalers, laser, etc.

When the disease is more severe, your general dentist may refer you to a specialist  (periodontist) in order to receive the necessary treatments.

Good oral hygiene habits are to be adopted at home in order to help prevent these diseases. But a professional cleaning and an examination with your dentist will help diagnose these diseases early thereby allowing for successful treatment.