Is gum disease curable?

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Specialist Periodontist
Periodontal Care
B.D.Sc. (Birm), MClinDent (Lond),
PGDipCD (Melb), M.R.A.C.D.S (Perio)

Is gum disease curableGum disease (or periodontal disease, as it is also known) is treatable rather than curable.

The condition can have a combination of causes, including individual susceptibility, the uncontrolled presence of calculus (also known as tartar) and bacterial plaque, and poor tooth brushing and home care.

Gum disease treatment starts with limiting the calculus buildup above and below the gum line. This is achieved by regular cleans performed by your dentist or dental hygienist at least twice a year.

Once your teeth are free of calculus, a high level of plaque control will limit the bacteria present. Regular brushing of the teeth and also cleaning between the teeth with dental floss or interproximal brushes will achieve this. A very good technique can take some time to master.

Limiting the quantity of bacteria will then slow down or stop any further gum disease or periodontal destruction. Some 10 to 15 per cent of the population have a higher susceptibility to gum disease and therefore need to pay special attention to their oral health. This may include seeing a dental hygienist every two to three months rather than twice a year.

The prevalence of severe gum disease has been shown to progress with age. Research shows that at age 39 it is evident in 1 per cent of the population and by age 70 it occurs in up to 10 to 15 per cent of the population.1,2,3

It is also important to understand that smoking makes a patient more susceptible to gum disease due to the toxins that persist in the mouth. Smokers are also less likely to respond to gum disease treatment.4,5,6

  • 1. Löe H, Anerud A, Boysen H, Smith M. The natural history of periodontal disease in man. Study design and baseline data. J Periodontol Res 1978; 13: 550–62.
  • 2. Baelum V, Fejerskov O, Manjif. Periodontal diseases in adult Kenyans. J Clin Periodontol 1988; 15: 445–52.
  • 3. Yoneyama T, Okamoto H, Lindhe J, Socransky SS, Haffajee AD. Probing depth, attachment loss and gingival recession. Findings from a clinical examination in Ushiku, Japan. J Clin Periodontol 1988; 15: 581–91.
  • 4. Haber J. Smoking is a major risk factor for periodontitis. Current Opinion in Periodontol. 1994; 2: 12­–18.
  • 5. Stoltenberg J, et al. Association between cigarette smoking, bacterial pathogens, and periodontal status. J Periodontol 1993; 64: 1225–30.
  • 6. Kinane DF, Radvar M. The effect of smoking on mechanical and antimicrobial periodontal therapy. Journal of Periodontology 1997; 68: 467–72.

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