Understanding Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a dental condition characterized by a gum infection that destroys the soft tissues and the bones that help support teeth. Periodontitis can lead to tooth loss and an increased risk of stroke or heart attack if left untreated. Such infections come as a result of poor oral hygiene and can be highly preventable.

Causes of periodontitis

The infection associated with periodontitis usually starts with the development of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is composed of bacteria that forms when starches and sugars interact with the bacteria found in the mouth. When plaque stays in the tooth for more than two days, they usually develop into tartar which can harden under the gumline.

Tartar is usually more difficult to remove and provides an area for bacteria to accumulate in. Eventually, the bacteria can irritate the gums and cause considerable infection that can go deeper and deeper until they cause tissue and bone damage that may lead to teeth loss.

Symptoms of periodontitis

Common symptoms associated with periodontitis include swollen gums that become bright red or purplish due to the bacterial infection. The infected gums can feel tender to the touch and can be seen receding from the teeth, making the teeth look bigger than normal. The receding gum line can also cause their hold on the teeth to lessen, causing the teeth to form new spaces in between them. Other symptoms may include bad breath, loose teeth and visible pus in between the gums and the teeth.

How periodontitis is diagnosed?

Diagnosis of periodontitis is based on a dental exam made by a dentist as well as a patient’s description of the symptoms. Dentists may further check the gumline for infection and bleeding as well as to determine the severity of the periodontitis.

How to prevent periodontitis

Periodontitis is a highly preventable condition through good oral hygiene. Regular brushing of teeth daily and other means to prevent plaque and tartar buildup such as flossing and using a mouthwash can help prevent periodontitis from developing. Regular visits to the dentist can also help detect the condition before it becomes worse.

Treatment of periodontitis

Treatments for periodontitis would depend on the severity of the condition. The main goal of the treatment is to remove the pockets of bacteria found under the gumline in order to prevent more damage. Procedures may include scaling to remove plaque and tartar and root planing to smoothen out root surfaces and pockets to prevent further bacteria build-up. Antibiotics can sometimes be used to treat the bacterial infection. Surgical treatments are reserved for advanced forms of periodontitis.