Don’t let periodontitis affect your plans.
Many studies indicate that people feel their 20s were the best of their lives. Why is that? Most people would tell you that this is when young adults seek to create a safe and comfortable lifestyle. From building a career or starting a positive relationship to moving into your first apartment or buying your first home, there are many things to look forward to! But did you know that periodontitis can impact people in their 20s?
If you are in your 20s, or any age for that matter, and feel like you don’t have the time to get to the dentist or maintain optimal oral health care at home, be sure to read on. We hope you’ll change your mind.
What is periodontitis?
First let’s talk about what periodontitis is. Commonly referred to as gum disease, periodontitis is a severe infection of the gums that damages the tissues that hold your teeth in place. Without treatment, periodontitis can lead to loose teeth, or worse, tooth loss. And as an adult, you don’t have any more natural replacement teeth.
The good news is that it is preventable. With proper oral care and hygiene, you can greatly reduce your chances of developing periodontitis. And even better, you can make sure that your bright, white smile will be happy and healthy throughout your 20s and beyond.
What are the warning signs?
When you have healthy gums, your gum tissue is a soft pink color. Your gums feel firm, and there are no areas that appear bright red or swollen. The warning signs of periodontitis, on the other hand, include one or more of the following symptoms:
- Puffy, swollen gums.
- Bright red or purple-tinted gums.
- Gums that bleed easily.
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing.
- Bad breath (halitosis).
- Puss between your teeth and gums.
- Gums that feel tender when touched.
- Loose teeth or tooth loss.
- Spaces developing between your teeth.
- Gum recession.
- Pain when chewing.
- Changes in your bite.
How does gingivitis progress to periodontitis?
Though you may never have heard of periodontitis until today, chances are that you have heard of gum inflammation (gingivitis). Though these gum-related ailments are similar, there are some important differences you should know. Gingivitis is reversible and only impacts the tissue right where your gums and teeth meet. Though gingivitis can cause tender, swollen, or sore gums, you can definitely work your way back from this point to pink, firm, healthy gums.
However, if left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which can happen when you don’t seek treatment from your dentist and consistently practice good oral hygiene at home. Periodontitis comes in phases, starting with mild periodontitis. Here your gums begin to recede from your teeth due to small pockets between your teeth and the affected gums. Harmful bacteria work their way into these pockets, causing infection and bleeding.
Moderate periodontal disease occurs when gum tissue starts to die. When this happens, your teeth lose the support they need to stay firmly in place. Thus, your teeth can start to loosen in your mouth, creating a greater risk of tooth loss. Not only that, but this infection can lead to a whole-body inflammatory response.
When you don’t treat moderate periodontal disease, it inevitably leads to advanced periodontitis. At this point,the gum tissue that holds your teeth in place has deteriorated. Many patients at this stage experience bad breath (i.e., halitosis) and extreme tooth and gum pain. You are now at your highest risk of losing teeth.
How do you treat it?
Treatment of periodontitis can take place by your dentist, dental hygienist, or periodontist (depending on the treatment offered by your general dentist). The goal of periodontal therapy is to clean the pockets around your teeth to encourage tissue reattachment and prevent further damage to the bone. In addition to treatment by a dental professional, adopting a sound oral care regimen at home can improve your chances of beating periodontitis.
Nonsurgical treatments for periodontitis include:
- Dental scaling to remove tartar and bacteria from above and below your gums.
- Root planing to smooth out root surfaces and lessen the risk of further tartar and bacteria buildup.
- Oral antibiotics to control bacterial infection.
Surgical treatments for periodontitis include:
- Pocket reduction surgery for more effective scaling and root planing
- Soft tissue grafts to reduce further gum recession by covering exposed roots.
- Bone grafts using your own bone to help prevent tooth loss.
- Guided tissue regeneration to encourage regrowth of bone destroyed by bacteria.
- Tissue-stimulating proteins involving a special gel that stimulates the growth of healthy bone and gum tissue.
Is periodontitis reversible?
Unfortunately, periodontitis can’t be fully reversed. Though you can slow it down, taking steps to take care of your teeth when you are young can help prevent periodontitis from occurring in the first place. No matter how busy you may be, taking these steps to prevent periodontitis will be worth the time and effort:
- See your dentist two times per year.
- Brush your teeth daily for two minutes at a time, preferably after meals.
- Floss your teeth once per day.
- Rinse your mouth using a fluoridated mouthwash.
- Quit smoking and tobacco use.
What’s the worst case scenario if I don’t seek periodontal therapy or treatment?
As the illness progresses, tartar and bacteria get deeper into your gum tissue and cause infection. The worst-case scenario is that you lose all your teeth.
Unfortunately it doesn’t end there: The effects of periodontitis can spread far beyond your oral health. That bacteria and tartar can enter your bloodstream and has been linked to arthritis, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. This is why treating periodontal disease before it impacts your overall physical health is so important. But your best option is to prevent periodontitis from occurring in the first place.
Pay a visit to Dr. Lang in Middletown, Ohio, if you are ready to combat your periodontitis.
If you are noticing any signs of periodontitis and are ready to turn it around, now is the time to request an appointment with Dr. Lang and the Great Miami Dental team in Middletown, Ohio. We can help you restore the beauty and function of your smile with periodontal treatment. And, if your periodontitis has progressed, we can help with dental implants, implant-supported dentures, and caring for your oral health with proper dental hygiene.
So don’t wait. Now is the time to get ahead of the game and protect your smile. We look forward to seeing you!