The DPSI Test: Gingival and Periodontal Health Index
A healthy gum is pink in colour and lies against the tooth with some tone. Between the tooth and the gum there is a narrow space 3mm deep called the sulcus.
A healthy gum does not bleed when brushing or eating. Inflamed gums, on the other hand, are red, swollen and bleed easily (these three symptoms are not always present together). In the oral environment, billions of micro-organisms live and colonise the surface of the tooth. Every day a thin whitish layer forms on the teeth, which is called plaque. It seems that many people are not able to remove plaque properly. The bacteria can cause gum inflammation (gingivitis) and also damage to the teeth (cavities). Bad breath is the result of a layer of plaque on the tongue and in the pharynx. Plaque can also calcify and become tartar.
In some people, inflammation will tend to set in. The gum will detach from the tooth and pockets will form. In these pockets, new plaque and tartar will form, the gum attachment will be destroyed and the inflammation will go deeper and deeper to reach the bone and destroy it. This form of gum inflammation is called periodontitis. The number of damaged attachment fibres can eventually become so great that the tooth falls out.
Many people with gingivitis will not develop periodontitis and this is because the composition of plaque differs from person to person (the number and type of bacteria).
It is the resistance against bacteria that determines whether someone will develop a periodontal problem or not, amongst other things, smoking, unstabilised diabetes and intense stresses can tip the balance and influence the development of periodontal disease.
Conversely, it appears that untreated periodontitis can have a negative influence on general health. In this way, heart problems, vascular problems and pre-term births are more frequent in people with periodontal problems.
By the BSP Board