Gum disease is a fact of life these days. With modern diets and lifestyles, as well as other risk factors such as smoking and chronic disease, almost half of us will experience gum disease at some point during our lives.
Gum disease, otherwise known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues around your teeth.
You may notice initial symptoms of gum disease. These may include pain, swelling, bleeding and inflammation, and bad breath amongst others. However gum disease can have an insidious element to it, and you may be completely symptomless in the early stages of the disease.
This is why many of us take care to have regular appointments with our dentists. At a routine check-up, your dentist should make a point of checking your gum health.
They are under a duty of care to assess and act on any clinical signs of gum disease.
A dentist should perform a basic periodontal examination at every check-up, looking for signs of gaps or bleeding around each tooth. Depending on the patient and the risk factors, it may be good practice to carry out an x-rays to rule out bone loss. If there are red flags, a dentist should offer you treatment or advice. As periodontal issues may often be outside the expertise of a regular high street dentist, they may refer you to a periodontist, who specialises in the treatment of gum disease.
Unfortunately, dentists do not always reach this reasonable standard of care.
A dentist may fail to follow proper protocols in the treatment of gum disease in a number of ways, including:
- Failure to undertake proper diagnostic checks
- Failure to perform their diagnostic tests or interpret results correctly
- Failure to inform patients of the extent of their gum disease
- Failure to give proper advice on treatment
- Failure to refer a patient onto a more specialised practitioner, such as a periodontist
Dentists therefore can and do often make errors when it comes to treating this complicated condition. Unfortunately, this can have major consequences for patients who may experience severe pain and discomfort, as well tooth loss if the disease is in an advanced stage. As gum disease often affects multiple teeth, if left untreated it can have devastating consequences for people.