What is periodontitis?

Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease. It occurs when the soft tissue around the teeth becomes infected.

When not treated, the condition can progress further and cause the bone to decay. Without the gums and bone securing them, the teeth may fall out. Gum disease is common, but that doesn’t mean you must experience it. It can be stopped before it advances.

Maintaining good oral hygiene habits, such as proper brushing and flossing daily, and seeing your dentist regularly can reduce your risk of developing periodontitis.

Symptoms of periodontitis

Here are some signs of gum disease you can take note of while waiting to see your dentist for an examination:

  • Tender or swollen gums
  • Chewing discomfort
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Sore teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Changes in how your dentures or oral appliances fit

Risk factors

The following factors may make a person more vulnerable to gum disease.

  • Worn dental fillings
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Misaligned teeth
  • Smoking
  • Dry mouth causing medication
  • Diabetes
  • Weakened immune system
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetics
  • Health conditions

Plaque build-up and gum disease

Plaque build-up is the common cause of gum disease. Sugar and starch combine with harmful bacteria to make up plaque.

Plaque can be removed through brushing and flossing, but it will come back again after consuming these types of foods. That’s why good oral hygiene is necessary to prevent bacterial build-up in the mouth.

If the plaque stays in the mouth, it hardens and turns into tartar. Unlike plaque, tartar isn’t easily removed. The longer tartar stays on the surfaces of the teeth, the more damage they can incur. This can irritate the gums and cause them to swell or redden.

As the gums become infected, they may pull back from the teeth and form pockets. Harmful bacteria can also occupy these pockets. Without treatment, the tissue and bones can break down.

Preventing periodontitis

Maintaining good oral hygiene habits can help you avoid periodontitis.

If you are at increased risk for gum disease, let your dentist know so they can monitor your mouth and help you boost your dental care routine.

Routine dental hygiene cleanings are also essential so your dental hygienist or dentist can examine your mouth for potential issues.

Those prone to gum disease or diagnosed with medical conditions may require cleanings more frequently. They may also require deep cleaning procedures to get rid of build-up below the gums.

Diagnosing and treating gum disease

Your dentist can spot signs of gum disease during your routine dental check-ups. It doesn't have to develop into periodontitis before it is diagnosed.

During your routine visits, you're asked questions about your medical history and symptoms. Your mouth will also be examined for signs of infection.

Your dentist may also use a device to measure the depth of pockets around your teeth. If the gum disease has already progressed, you may also need dental X-rays to see if there is bone loss.

Gum disease treatments can include nonsurgical or surgical options. You may be prescribed antibiotics to fight off infections. Your dentist may also perform scaling and root planing, or deep cleaning, to get rid of built-up bacteria below your gum line. For your comfort, local anesthesia will be administered too.

For cases that require surgical intervention, your dentist may discuss getting flap surgery, bone grafts, or gum grafts, among others.

Flap surgery involves lifting the gum tissue so the roots can be cleaned thoroughly. Bone grafts are done to replenish lost bone tissue. And gum grafts are performed to replace lost gum tissue around your teeth and avoid further recession.

Check for signs of gum disease on your next dental visit

Do you feel your gums may be infected? If you’re hesitant about going to the dentist because it’s been a while since your last visit, don’t worry; the dental office is a judgment-free zone.

Here at Image Dental in Red Deer, AB, we understand that some people feel anxious about being in the dental chair. Let’s work together so you can keep your gums and mouth healthy while ensuring pleasant dental care experiences.

Speak with our dental team today to get started.