What Is Periodontitis?
In recognition of Gum Disease Awareness Month, we'd like to center our September blog posts around this very important topic so that you can arm yourself with the necessary information to help prevent this serious disease, which is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults.
Gum disease is medically known as periodontal disease, and periodontitis in its most basic form means a chronic inflammatory oral disease that progressively destroys the tooth supporting structures. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an astonishing 47.2 percent of American adults are affected by periodontitis.
Before looking at periodontitis, it may be helpful to first have a look at the mildest stage of gum disease: gingivitis. Gingivitis is a condition caused by the accumulation of plaque on the teeth and gums. Plaque is a sticky film created by oral bacteria that often forms in hard-to-reach areas of the mouth, leading to irritation of the gums and a chronic level of inflammation.
The good news is that gingivitis is reversible if you simply reestablish proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth at least twice daily and floss a minimum of once a day.
Symptoms of Gingivitis:
- Red and swollen gums
- Gums that bleed readily when brushing or flossing your teeth
- Random bleeding of the gums
Progression of Gingivitis
If gingivitis is left undiagnosed and untreated, it eventually progresses into an irreversible form of gum disease called periodontitis. This severe form of gum disease involves the inflammation of parts of the periodontium – the bone and gum tissue securing your teeth in place.
If periodontitis progresses far enough, it can lead to teeth loosening and eventually falling out.
Symptoms of Periodontitis
In addition to the above symptoms of gingivitis, some symptoms of periodontitis include:
- Receding gums
- Bad breath
- Pain when you chew
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
What should I be looking for?
Some things to look for when it comes to periodontitis include any unusual changes to your teeth or gums. When gums are healthy, they should be firm and colored pale pink.
Be on the lookout for gums that are of a darker pink color, or gums that are red or purple. Another warning sign is gums that appear puffy or swollen.
If it seems that your teeth appear longer than they usually do, this is probably a symptom of receding gums. Your teeth may even feel looser in your mouth or whenever you bite.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
The quicker you take action against gingivitis, the better results you are likely to achieve. Just make sure that you are maintaining proper oral hygiene by regularly brushing and flossing your teeth to remove plaque.
Combining proper cleaning efforts at home with visiting us every six months is a powerful one-to punch against gum disease.
What is treatment for periodontitis like?
Although periodontitis is an irreversible condition, it can still be stopped in its tracks to minimize the risk of tooth loss.
The most common treatment for this condition is known as scaling and root planing, which involves the removal of plaque and tartar. Patients often benefit from the use of special medicated mouthwashes and antibiotics, which help treat the underlying infection. In severe cases, surgical treatment may be necessary.
Thanks for your support!
- Dr. Houlik