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What is Gum Disease? gums\gingiva
Your teeth are set into your jaws supported by the gums and bone. The roots of the teeth are connected to the bony socket with the help of millions of fibers called the periodontal ligament. Gums (gingiva) are essentially a tough fibrous tissue that covers the bone up to the neck of the teeth. The outer layer of the gums fits snugly around the enamel (outer layer of the tooth).
Improper brushing leads to formation of plaque, which contains injurious bacteria’s and is the main cause of gum diseases. Plaque is a filmy substance made up of different bacteria, which forms around your teeth. If neglected the plaque attacks your gums leading to inflammation and bleeding of the gums. This is known as GINGIVITIS. Gums become red, swollen, and sensitive, and bleed on brushing or just on mild finger pressure. Bleeding gums are a warning that plaque has weakened the tissues around the teeth. gums\gingiva
If neglected further, and the plaque is not removed from the teeth by proper brushing then it hardens around the gum line and forms tartar (Calculus) by the absorption of salivary salts mainly calcium and phosphorous. Once this happens, only a dentist can remove the tartar through professional cleaning (scaling) of teeth. In more advanced stage the infection spreads into the surrounding bone causing mobility of the tooth due to destruction of the supporting tissues. This is known as PERIODONTITIS or Pyorrhea. Pus discharge can occur from the gums causing bad breath and bad taste. As more bone loss occurs the tooth becomes very mobile and eventually fall off.
Infection of the gums can cause the gums to get separated from the tooth surface resulting in pocket formation. This causes food impaction between the teeth and the gums, and cause severe pain and irritation. The gums may also recede from the tooth and expose the root surface. This makes the tooth sensitive to extreme temperature changes and to sweets. gums\gingiva
Gum diseases can also take the form of GUMBOIL, occurring due to an infected tooth. If a carious tooth is not filled at an early stage, the infection can spread into the pulp (vital tissues of the tooth). Pus may collect inside the tooth due to the destruction of pulp, and work its way through the end of the root into the jawbone, and pushes out the gum and drains out as a gumboil.

How can I prevent Gum Diseases?
Although gum diseases can occur at any age, they usually affect adults. As many as 90% of the people above the age of 40 years suffer from some form of gum disease. The causes of this disease are multifactorial, but the presence of bacteria in plaque is the main cause.
Thus the most effective way is to prevent the formation of plaque. Prevention is better than cure. Plaque is the biggest villain behind both tooth decay and gum diseases. Plaque is a sticky, almost invisible, whitish yellow, thin film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. Brushing and flossing twice a day and after every meal can control plaque formation. Follow the Six Golden Rules. You must practice these good dental habits for a good dental health.
Sometimes the most careful and conscientious cleaning of the teeth by proper brushing can leave some plaque and tartar deposits. Therefore it is usually necessary to have your dentist give your teeth a professional cleaning (scaling) every 12 months. Professional cleaning improves the dental health and helps to maintain a good oral hygiene.

What are the cures for Gum Diseases?
Early gingivitis is usually completely reversible. The dentist will do a professional cleaning (SCALING) to remove the plaque and tartar, which is a simple and painless procedure. The gums regain their strength and normal shape after a few days. Then you have to maintain a good oral hygiene to prevent the reoccurrence of gingivitis by deposition of plaque near the gum line, through proper brushing and flossing techniques.
Repeated deposits of plaque and tartar (calculus) sometimes cause thickening of the gums (gingiva) around the teeth, which does not return to normal even after cleaning (scaling) of the teeth. This may results in food deposition due to pocket formation. It may also appear as a growth and give an unpleasant appearance. Under such circumstances removal (excision) of the excess tissue is recommended under local anesthesia. This is referred to as GINGIVECTOMY. The gums usually heal by about 8 days, and the contours of the teeth are restored.

When you neglect deposits of plaque and tartar under your gums the tooth supporting fibers and bone gets destroyed. The tooth becomes mobile. Depending upon the bone loss and the reaming supporting tissues the tooth can be saved through a special type of gum surgery, under local anesthesia called the PERIODONTAL FLAP SURGERY. If no treatment is done to save the tooth, the tooth falls off.

Procedure: Under Local anesthesia the gums around the affected teeth are reflected to elevate a periodontal flap. All the deposits of plaque, tartar and granulation tissues are removed. The damaged bone is removed and the area is smoothened by grinding and filling. Root planing is done with root planers or with medicaments for better attachment of periodontal fibers. The infected parts of the gums are also removed. The flap is then firmly placed on the bone by suturing. If excess bone destruction has occurred then the bonny defects maybe filled with bone grafts. The sutures are removed after about 6 days, and in about a week or two the remaining gums offer healthy tooth support.

SPLINTING of the affected tooth maybe done before or after the surgery. Splinting is the adhesion of the affected mobile tooth to the adjacent teeth to help in the formation of better and healthy supporting tissues.
After the surgery you have to maintain a good oral hygiene by proper tooth brushing and flossing. A professional cleaning (Scaling) is advised every 6 months.

* My Homepage * Know your teeth * Know your Gums (Gingiva) * Eruption Dates * Six Golden Rules * Brushing\Flossing Technique * Wisdom tooth * Tooth Decay * Extraction * Dental Implant * Surgical Extraction * Orthognathic Surgery * Asymmetry of the face * Gummy Smile * Prognathism{Long Jaw} * Beggs\Straight wire{Orthodontia} * Bleaching{Tooth Whitening} * Habit Breaking * Interceptive Orthodontics * Discolouration\Veneers * Composite\Amalgam Fillings * Root Canal Treatment{RCT} * Crown{Porcelain\Castmetal} * Flap Surgery/Splinting * Bridges{Porcelain\Castmetal} * TMJ (Joint) Disorders * Bell's Palsy {Facial Paralysis} * Ankylosis{Difficulty in mouth opening} * Cleft Lip and Palate * Trigeminal Neuralgia * In a Lighter vein

This site is produced, designed and maintained by
Dr Antony George, Trichur Institute of Head And Neck Surgery (TIHANS),
Shornur Road,Trichur,Kerala-680001,India.
Ph: 0091-0487-335145, 335185
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copyright ©Aug 2000. No part of this website may be transmitted or reproduced in anyway. Every effort has been made to supply correct and accurate information, but I assume no responsibility for its use.

updated Aug2002.