Periodontitis, (more commonly known as gum disease) is a severe gum infection that causes serious damage to the soft tissues around the teeth. If not treated, periodontitis can seriously destroy the bone that provides support to the teeth, which then causes the teeth to loosen or completely fall out.Copy HTMLCopy text
Periodontitis is very common, but the disease can usually be prevented. The disease is often the result of poor oral care. To help prevent periodontitis, decrease the rate of its progression or increase the chances of a successful treatment, you need to familiarise yourself with all the important details of the disease and speak to a reputable dental practice like Sherwood Park Dental Practice.
Below is everything you need to know about periodontitis, its causes, symptoms and treatment.
Causes of Periodontitis
Dental plaque that is not removed by brushing can calcify and form tartar. This tartar build-up can then result in gum disease. Only professional cleaning carried out by a dental hygienist or dentist can efficiently remove tartar.
Whilst several risk factors exist for gum disease, smoking, however, is the most noteworthy. Smoking can also decrease the chances of gum disease treatment being successful and prolong recovery time. Other risk factors include certain illnesses like AIDS or diabetes and their medications, hormonal changes in females, and genetics.
Healthy gums fit firmly and snugly around your teeth. The colour of healthy and perfect gums can vary from dark pink in some people to light pink and brown in others. However, you may have periodontitis if you notice symptoms like:
- Puffiness or swelling of the gums.
- Dark purple, dark red or bright red gums.
- Gum tenderness.
- Bleeding gums.
- A toothbrush that appears red or pink following brushing.
- Spitting out blood when flossing or brushing your teeth.
- Persistent bad breath.
- Pus between your teeth and gums.
- Tooth loss or loose teeth.
- Pain while chewing.
- Formation of black triangle-like spaces between the teeth.
- Gums separating from the teeth, making them look longer than usual (receding gums).
- A change in how your teeth fit together while biting or eating
What Happens to Your Teeth and Gums if Periodontal Disease is Left Untreated?
Periodontal disease can progress and develop into serious complications over time. Gum disease can be divided into four stages including:
Gingivitis- This is less severe than periodontitis and is considered onset gum disease. With gingivitis, the gums become swollen, red and painful, but with no bone loss yet. Gingivitis can be reversed if you take better care of your teeth and visit your dentist frequently for cleanings.
Mild Periodontitis- When gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into a mild form of periodontitis. When this happens, small spaces begin to form between your gums and your teeth. You will also start to experience some bone loss around them. Consequently, periodontal pockets will start to form. Bacteria, plaque and tartar get trapped in these pockets, which may be out of reach for your toothbrush and floss.
Moderate Periodontitis- If periodontitis continues to progress, even more, bone loss will occur around your teeth. The trapped bacteria will also go on to erode the soft tissues and ligaments that support the teeth. At this point, you will feel some soreness and tenderness in your gums.
Severe Periodontitis- If periodontitis goes untreated, the disease becomes even more severe. With the continued bone loss, your teeth become loose and may potentially fall out. Coupled with the bleeding gums, there’s often infection and some pus surrounding your gum line, which is responsible for chronic bad breath (halitosis).
Besides poor oral health, a case of periodontitis can lead to poor overall health. Research shows an important link between your oral health and your whole-body health. Individuals with periodontitis have an increased risk of developing dementia, heart disease, stroke and other serious health complications.
The objective of periodontitis treatment is to curb the infection. The types and number of treatments will differ depending on the severity of the gum disease. All types of treatment will require that the patient maintains good oral care at home. Your dentist may also recommend changing certain behaviours, like quitting smoking, to improve the odds of your treatment results.
Periodontitis is a serious condition that requires immediate attention, so it is important to know the signs to look out for. The earlier periodontitis is detected and treated, the greater your odds of reversing any damage caused by the disease. Prevention is always better than cure, so it is also crucial that you maintain the best oral hygiene practices and see your dentist for checkups regularly.