What is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is a severe gum infection that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports your teeth. It involves inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. This disease often starts as gingivitis. If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis.

Causes Of Periodontitis

Periodontitis is caused by the buildup of bacteria in the form of dental plaque. If left untreated, here is how plaque can eventually advance to periodontitis:

  • Plaque forms on your teeth when starches and sugars in food interact with bacteria found in your mouth.
  • Plaque can harden under your gumline into tartar (calculus) if it remains on your teeth.
  • Plaque can cause gingivitis, the mildest form of periodontal disease.
  • Ongoing gum inflammation can cause periodontitis resulting in pockets to develop between your gums and teeth that fill with plaque, tartar and bacteria.

Signs and symptoms

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bright red, dusky red or purplish gums
  • Gums that feel tender when touched
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Gums that pull away from your teeth (recede) making your teeth look longer than normal
  • New spaces (periodontal pockets) developing between your teeth
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Painful chewing

Risk Factors

  • Gingivitis 
  • Poor oral health habits
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Certain diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease
  • Certain medications that cause dry mouth or gum changes
  • Conditions that cause decreased immunity such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS and cancer treatment
  • Hormonal changes related to pregnancy or menopause
  • Substance abuse
  • Genetics 
  • Older age 

Complications 

Periodontitis can cause a loss of tissue and bone and ultimately result in tooth loss.

Treatment

The treatment you need depends on how serious your periodontitis is. Mild periodontitis is usually treated with a cleaning called scaling and root planing. Moderate periodontitis may require more than scaling and root planing. You also may need surgery to reshape your gums. Severe periodontitis usually requires surgery. You may need antibiotics.

Prevention

  • Good oral hygiene daily
  • Regular dental visits

Contact us to schedule your next dental visit today.

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