Periodontitis. Say it with me! Pare-ee-oh-don-TIE-tis. Or, if you’d prefer to make it easier on yourself, you can go with gum disease. Either way, it’s important to understand why this infection occurs, how it can impact your oral health, and how you can prevent it. After all, though periodontitis is quite common and also quite dangerous, it’s also largely preventable. What is periodontitis? Scroll down for more information.
What Is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a serious disease that causes gum inflammation and infection. The gums become swollen and red and pull away from the teeth, forming pockets between the gums and teeth. Bacteria can enter these pockets, leading to infection below the gum line. If left untreated, periodontitis can break down the gums and bone supporting your teeth, which can cause tooth loss in severe cases.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, periodontitis affects more than 47 percent of adults over age 30 in the United States.
What causes periodontitis?
Periodontitis is caused by the build-up of bacteria in the mouth. If this build-up isn’t regularly removed through brushing and flossing, it will form a film called plaque. Plaque hardens into tartar, which can only be removed by a dental health professional. If left untreated, tartar may cause inflammation and infection in the soft tissue surrounding the teeth, which leads to gingivitis (the earliest stage of gum disease) and then progresses to periodontitis.
What are the symptoms of periodontitis?
If you believe you may have periodontitis, take a look at your mouth. Are your gums red, swollen, or tender? Are your gums receding, revealing more of your teeth? Do your gums bleed when you brush or floss? Do your teeth feel sensitive or loose? You might also be experiencing bad breath, a change in your bite, or painful chewing. If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist.
Who is most at risk for developing periodontitis?
This oral disease can affect anyone with poor oral hygiene, but it’s more common in people over the age of 30. It’s also more common in men than women. Other risk factors of periodontitis include the following:
- Medications that reduce saliva production
- Hormonal changes
- Diseases that harm the immune system
What is the treatment for periodontitis?
The recommended treatment depends on the severity of the disease. Your dentist may prescribe one or more of the following treatments:
- A deep cleaning, which typically involves scaling and root planing
- An antimicrobial mouthwash
- An antibiotic gel
- Flap surgery
- Bone and tissue grafting
No matter which treatment you receive, it’s absolutely essential that you maintain a good oral hygiene routine afterward to prevent future infections. You should brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, schedule dental check-ups every six months, and eat a well-balanced diet. If you smoke, quit. Talk to your dentist and dental hygienist if you have questions about brushing and flossing techniques and which products to purchase.
Are you concerned that you’re on the road to developing periodontitis? The first thing you should do is schedule a dental appointment. Not only will your dental team clean your teeth and treat any existing problems, but also they can give you personalized advice to help you avoid periodontitis going forward.
If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. For exceptional and comprehensive dental care, schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!