What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis means “inflammation around the tooth,” and is also known as gum disease. The early form of this condition is known as gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. They can become red, swollen, and sensitive and may bleed when probed or disturbed. Stopping the progression of the disease at this stage is important. If allow to progress, the more advanced disease of periodontitis may develop. In periodontitis, gums may pull away from teeth and create pockets, which open the door to further infection and more serious problems down the road.
What Causes Periodontitis?
When you eat, the spaces between your teeth and near your gum line are prime real estate to harbor the remnants of your meal. When these food bits and sugars are deposited, they can encourage the growth of bacteria. Under normal circumstances and with good oral hygiene, this doesn’t need to become an issue. Brushing and flossing remove these bits of debris, and regular cleanings ensure anything missed in your daily routine is taken care of. But when circumstances allow these sugars and bacteria to hang around, they begin to compromise the integrity of your oral health. The bacteria, instead of hanging around for a bit, create an infection in the gums- and eventually- in the underlying spongy bone. This spongy bone is what gives your tooth the support it needs to function: to stay rooted, to receive a good blood supply, and for the nerve to remain healthy. As the gum tissue pulls away from the tooth, the infection worsens and the bacteria multiply further. Without intervention, periodontitis can lead to a host of problems.
Consequences of Periodontitis
If you don’t seek dental intervention at the early signs of gum disease, it can progress towards periodontitis. The resulting infection leads to a list of more serious issues, which become harder to resolve the longer they go untreated. Infection of the gum tissue can allow bacteria to enter the bloodstream, and can increase your risk of endocarditis, an infection of the heart valves. This leads to a corresponding increase of heart attack and stroke risk. The spongy bone loss and erosion of the underlying support of the tooth can lead to tooth loosening and even tooth loss. Receding gums are another side effect, as is bad breath due to the presence of bacteria in hard-to-reach areas.
What Can I Do About Gum Disease?
The good news is that periodontal disease, while uncomfortable and a bit scary, is very treatable. Regular oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing, are vital. Regular professional cleanings are key in assessing gum health and periodontal disease risk and preventing further disease. However, once periodontal disease has taken root, vigilance is important- without regular cleanings and maintenance of personal oral hygiene, it will return. Professional dental visits are the only way to remove the film, plaque and hardened calculus which form in the hard-to-reach pockets along the gum line. Your dental provider may give you special mouthwashes, gels or antibiotics to help you manage your condition.
Don’t Wait to Treat Periodontitis
If you suspect you have gingivitis or periodontal disease, or have had it in the past, waiting is not an option. The longer bacteria and the plaque they create are present, the more advanced periodontal disease becomes. Dr. Bruce Freund is an experienced dental professional, who specializes in many areas of dental treatment, including the prevention and management of gum disease and periodontitis. Our specialized Periodontal Treatment is created specifically for the needs of those with early, moderate, and advanced periodontal disease. With the help of Dr.Freund’s skilled staff and modifications to your oral hygiene routine, your tooth and gum health can be restored and maintained. Contact us for more information or to schedule a consultation.