What is Periodontitis?

A severe form of gingivitis is referred to as Periodontitis. In this condition, the inflammation in your gums will extend to the structures that support your teeth.

This is one of the top causes of adult tooth loss. It is the top cause of loss of teeth in older individuals as well.

Put simply, this infection will cause the bones that are responsible for holding teeth in place to erode. This erosion causes the attachments to weaken, and the teeth become loose. Eventually, the teeth fall out or have to be extracted.

What are the Symptoms of Periodontitis?

There are several symptoms associated with periodontitis. These include:

  • Gums that are tender to the touch
  • Gums that are swollen
  • Gums that recede from the teeth, causing the teeth to appear longer
  • Gums that are purplish or bright red
  • The formation of new spaces between the teeth
  • Changes in the way that the teeth fit together when biting
  • The development of pus between the gums and teeth
  • A bad taste in the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth

Periodontitis Causes

Periodontitis is caused by a buildup of bacterial plaque on the teeth and gums. Although bacteria are present in the mouth at all times, regular brushing and flossing help to control it and reduce the damage it can do to teeth and gums. However, if the bacterial plaque is left to build up, it creates a hard deposit of tartar on teeth which offers an even better environment for more bacteria to grow, particularly toward the roots of the teeth.

As bacteria grows towards the teeth roots, it causes inflammation of the gum. This can become so severe that a periodontal pocket begins to form between the root of the tooth and the gum. The pocket offers the perfect environment for yet more bacteria to grow. The bacteria then release toxins into the bloodstream which cause even more inflammation around the gum. Eventually, this leads to tooth loss and decay within the jawbone.

Certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors can contribute to periodontitis, but they are not the root cause of the disease. Instead, they can weaken the body’s immune system and ability to heal, which speeds up the progression of periodontitis. Examples of these factors include:

  • Diabetes
  • Tobacco use
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Autoimmune disorders

How is Periodontitis Treated?

Because periodontitis is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, simply brushing your teeth at least twice daily, as well as flossing daily, could help prevent it. Regularly see your dentist for checkups and cleanings to also reduce the odds of getting periodontitis.

Once periodontitis has developed, several treatment options are available. These include root planing, antibiotics, and scaling, which are all non-surgical options.

Advanced periodontitis will likely require some form of surgery, such as soft tissue grafts, bone grafting, flap surgery, enamel matrix derivative application, and guided tissue regeneration.

Periodontitis Prevention

Since periodontitis is caused by a buildup of bacterial plaque on the teeth, good oral hygiene is the only way to prevent it. Everyone should brush their teeth twice each day, but some people still develop periodontitis even with regular brushing. This is because certain parts of the teeth can be difficult to reach with a toothbrush alone.

One of the most common places for plaque and tartar to build up is between the teeth because toothbrush bristles typically cannot access this area. Flossing is the only way to remove plaque from between the teeth, and this should be done every day.

It’s also important to visit a dentist on a regular basis for a thorough examination of your teeth and gums. This will help to spot early signs of periodontitis so that it can be treated before it progresses. Your dentist may also be able to remove tartar buildup and advise you on your oral hygiene routine if they notice areas which appear to have an unusual buildup of plaque or tartar.