Periodontal Disease Summary

Periodontal or gum disease is the most common disease known to mankind and causes the loss of the majority of teeth. It has been associated with an increased risk of heart disease, low birth weight and prematurity and possibly rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer’s disease. Smoking is also a risk factor as is diabetes.

Periodontal disease is not a classic bacterial infection because it does not meet Koch’s Postulates. It is a hypersensitivity reaction to the antigens in dental plaque.

The disease progresses as the body’s response to leaving plaque around the teeth and is associated with inadequate tooth brushing technique, bleeding gums on brushing (that is NEVER normal) bone loss around the teeth and the development of spaces between gum and teeth. Calculus or tartar forms below the gum and over time forms further down the root. There is more bone loss and pockets develop. The spaces under teeth then enlarge, it is harder to remove plaque and so the cycle continues and leads to tooth loss unless treated by the dentist.

Periodontal treatment can vary from relatively simple, such as root planing to remove calculus and plaque and oral hygiene instruction to complex surgical and bone grafting procedures. Poor oral hygiene can also lead to loss of dental implants - peri-implantitis.

The Spacemark Dental concept allows dental professionals to identify the precise size of each interdental space and prescribe the ideal brush diameter. Studies have shown that the pattern of interspace brush diameter is unique for each patient. It follows that using just one or two sizes of brush will not control plaque effectively and can create a false sense of care. Sometimes up to 7 different brush diameters may be required for an individual patient to properly match their mouth’s needs.

Whatever treatment is recommended the most important prognostic factor is how well patients control their plaque on a daily basis. Since flossing has now been found to be ineffective, efficient interdental plaque control with the correct brush diameter using the Spacemark Dental programme is a significant step forward in disease control and patient care.