According to the American Dental Association, more than 40% of U.S. adults aged 30 or older have periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue around your teeth. If left untreated, it can loosen your teeth and even lead to tooth loss.
While periodontitis may be prevalent in the United States, it’s also preventable. Maintaining a solid at-home dental routine and staying up-to-date on your dentist visits is a great way to keep your gums in good shape. Today, we’re taking a closer look at this condition, including the symptoms to look out for and the treatments to pursue.
What is periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that affects the soft tissues in your mouth. Without treatment, the infection can spread to the bone that supports and holds in your teeth. When this occurs, it can cause your teeth to become loose. Eventually, it can also lead to tooth loss.
In most cases, periodontitis occurs as a result of poor dental hygiene. When you prioritize your dental care, you can help keep your teeth and gums healthy. These steps can also improve your chances of successful periodontal treatment.
Stages of Periodontitis
Periodontitis doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it occurs over a few different phases. You might not notice any physical signs or symptoms until the infection has progressed significantly. Let’s take a look at the timeline.
Stage 1: Plaque Forms
When you eat, the starches and sugars in your food interact with the bacteria in your mouth. As long as you brush and floss twice a day, you should be able to remove this plaque before it builds up. Keep in mind that it re-forms very quickly, so it’s important not to skip a cleaning!
Step 2: Plaque Hardens
If plaque is allowed to remain in your mouth, it will quickly harden under your gum line. Once there, it turns into tartar, or calculus. Unlike plaque, tartar is difficult to remove. It’s also filled with bacteria.
Regular brushing and flossing aren’t enough to effectively remove tartar. However, if you take prompt action, your dentist can use special tools to clean it away.
Step 3: Gingivitis Forms
If tartar isn’t cleaned, it can lead to gingivitis. This is the mildest form of gum disease. Gingivitis causes the gum tissues around the base of your teeth to become irritated and inflamed. Again, you can usually reverse the signs of gingivitis with a visit to your dentist.
Step 4: Periodontitis Forms
Ongoing gingivitis can cause pockets to form between your gum and your teeth. As these pockets fill up with plaque, tartar, and bacteria, they can grow deeper and more expansive. At this stage, the infection has turned into periodontal disease.
Eventually, this disease can lead to both tissue and bone loss. This can cause your teeth to loosen or fall out. In addition, the ongoing inflammation in your mouth can also weaken your immune system, which makes you more susceptible to disease.
Symptoms of Periodontitis
Early identification is key to successfully treating periodontitis. This is why it’s so important to know and recognize the signs of this condition. A few of the most common ones include:
- Inflamed gums.
- Bleeding gums.
- Bright red gums.
- Pain when flossing.
- Bad breath.
- Pain when you chew.
- Spaces developing between teeth.
- Receding gums.
- Changes in your bite.
Healthy gums will look pale pink. They’ll also fit firmly in your mouth and around your teeth without any pain or loosening.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, let your dentist know as soon as possible. The quicker you take action, the greater the likelihood that you can treat and reverse any signs of periodontitis.
You can prevent periodontitis by following your dentist’s recommended schedule for routine cleanings and preventative care. This way, your dentist can monitor your oral health on a regular basis, ensuring that no issues are allowed to go untreated.
In addition, you’ll also need a strong at-home oral care routine! By brushing and flossing twice a day, you can do your part to rinse plaque from your mouth and keep your teeth and gums clean. It’s also smart to reach for tooth-loving foods, like cheese and crunchy veggies, whenever possible. By limiting sweets, you can help keep excess plaque from forming on and around your teeth.
Treatment for Periodontitis
You can’t treat periodontitis from home, but in many cases, your dentist can help reverse any damage caused. The specific type of treatment provided will depend on the stage that your condition has progressed to, as well as your overall dental health and other factors.
At Great Miami Dental, Dr. Lang is skilled at helping patients fight back against periodontitis. One treatment he uses is Arestin, a locally applied antibiotic treatment that targets harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Arestin is normally used in conjunction with other periodontal treatments, such as scaling and root planing. These are in-office procedures that can deep clean your teeth and help remove excessive plaque buildup from below your gumline.
Learn More About Periodontitis
Educating yourself about the ins and outs of periodontitis helps you know what to look for and how to act. While this condition can be debilitating, you have the tools and knowledge you need to prevent it.
Along the way, our office is here to help. We’re dedicated to ensuring your optimal dental health, and we provide a range of preventative and restorative services designed to keep your teeth and gums healthy and happy.
Interested in learning more about periodontitis? Ready to seek treatment or receive a professional evaluation?
Feel free to reach out to us. You can also schedule an appointment online today!