More than 50 million Americans have a form of periodontitis or gum disease. In fact, it’s the country’s number one cause of tooth loss. And it’s more than just a cosmetic problem. Nationwide, periodontitis is the cause of almost half of all adult tooth loss.
It also leads to infections that can destroy the jaw bone and is associated with stroke, diabetes and heart disease, too. Despite this, few people know that gum disease can be prevented and treated, or that the risk for gum disease is a major risk factor for heart disease.
What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is caused by an infection of the gums, which in turn causes inflammation of the soft tissue around the teeth. Some types of periodontitis are linked to bacteria in the saliva.
What are the Symptoms of Periodontitis?
In the early stages of periodontitis, gums become swollen and inflamed. Left unattended, the inflammation and swelling can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth. As the disease progresses, pockets form between the teeth and the gums. Bacteria in the mouth collect in these pockets and breakdown the bone that holds the teeth in place.
Eventually, the gums separate from the teeth and form pockets (malocclusion) or may actually shrink or pull away from the teeth (gingival recession). If left untreated, repeated episodes of gum disease cause the jawbone to become loose, causing it to fall out when left unattended.
Other symptoms to watch out for include the following:
- Swollen or puffy gums
- Bright red, dusky red or purplish gums
- Gums that feel tender when touched
- Gums that bleed easily
- Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing
- Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing your teeth
- Bad breath
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- Loose teeth or loss of teeth
- Painful chewing
- New spaces developing between your teeth
- Receding gums
- Significant changes to your natural bite
What are the Causes of Periodontitis?
In the majority of cases, periodontitis is caused by a build-up of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on your teeth. If food particles or other particles get into the plaque, they’ll start a chain reaction of inflammation.
The bacteria in the plaque release toxins that cause the soft gum tissue around the tooth to become inflamed.
The body will try to fight off the infection by sending white blood cells and other substances that try to kill the bacteria. Unfortunately, this creates a vicious cycle: the more white blood cells that are in the gum tissue the more vulnerable the gums are to infection.
The bacteria release enzymes that break down the bone that holds the teeth in place, leading to gums that recede from the teeth. Consequently, gum recession is a major risk factor for tooth loss.
What are the Dental Treatments for Periodontitis?
Today periodontal treatment involves both the doctor and the patient working together to prevent, identify, and treat periodontitis.
Prevention is extremely important, but even so, if you have periodontitis it’s important to go to the dentist regularly for professional cleaning and treatment.
Your dentist will recommend the most appropriate treatment for you, be it root planing, scaling, or taking antibiotics. In most cases, your dentist will try to eliminate the infection in the gums by cleaning below the gum line (scaling). Your dentist might also put antimicrobial agents in your mouth or prescribe additional medications.
In some cases, your dentist may recommend dental surgery. This is usually reserved for advanced cases of periodontitis that cannot be treated by nonsurgical means.
The Bottom Line: The Importance of Addressing Signs of Periodontitis
If you are experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of periodontitis, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible. Periodontitis can easily be detected by a trained dental professional, who can run tests in order to determine if you have periodontitis. Dental hygiene also plays an important role in periodontitis, as well as in your overall health.
For more information about periodontitis, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation.
Are You Looking for the Best Dentist in Manassas?
If you need to get dental implants, then contact Liberia Dental Care today! We are a full-service dental clinic that provides top-notch dental treatment for the whole family. Our professional team is dedicated to giving you the best dental care in Manassas, VA, and will do everything we can to help you achieve the smile you have always wanted.