The gums or gingiva are the soft tissues that surround our teeth and are attached to the underlying bone.The normal colour of healthy gums is coral pink, the texture is like the skin of an orange and their shape is following the lines of the teeth (these triangual edges between the teeth).
In the presence of plaque (a mixture of food and bacteria) and tartar (hardened plaque) the gums start getting inflamed.
One of the first signs indicating the presence of gum disease is a change in the colour of the gums to red. Their texture can become very smooth and sometimes swollen followed by the loss of the normal shape (gum recession and root exposure) and of course bleeding.
Gum inflammation in mild cases is described as gingivitis.
At this stage, gingivitis, if diagnosed and treated early, is perfectly reversible, but if left untreated can lead to periodontitis where the underlying bone has been affected, deep pockets (periodontal pockets) are created around the teeth and treatment becomes more difficult and the results can be compromised. In severe periodontitis abscesses can form around the teeth and when the bone recession exceeds a certain level teeth become loose.
A dental check-up will include screening of your gum condition, the existence of plaque or tartar and checking for the existence of periodontal pockets, as well as education on oral hygiene.
The gum treatment aims to remove the factors that contribute to gum disease by scaling, which is the physical removal of the plaque and the tartar. This is achieved with an ultrasonic scaler that has a thin tip and can enter even areas that are difficult to reach with brushing (like between the teeth or under the gum level in the gum pockets). In cases where there are deep pockets the gum treatment (hygiene) can be performed under local anesthesia to minimize discomfort.
A polishing using a rotating brush and a special paste or airflow (a mixture of powder air and water) can additionally remove all the stains from the teeth even from difficult to reach areas.
This is a diagram and pictures to help you understand the appearance of normal gums and the progress of gingivitis and periodontitis:
1. Normal, Healthy Gingiva (Gums)
Healthy gums and bone anchor teeth firmly in place.
Plaque and its byproducts irritate the gums, making them tender, inflamed, and likely to bleed.
Unremoved, plaque hardens into calculus (tartar). As plaque and calculus continue to build up, the gums begin to recede (pull away) from the teeth, and pockets form between the teeth and gums.
4. Advanced Periodontitis
The gums recede further, destroying more bone and the periodontal ligament. Teeth (even healthy teeth) may become loose and need to be extracted.