Periodontitis also known as Gum Disease or Periodontal Disease and is the main cause of tooth loss in adults. It is an infection and inflammation of the gums and bone surrounding your teeth. The early stage of Periodontitis is Gingivitis where the infection is only found in your gums. Your gums can become red, swollen and may even bleed. Gingivitis is very treatable and can be reversed when caught early.
Poor oral hygiene can lead to dental plaque accumulating around the gums. The bacteria in dental plaque produce toxins that cause periodontal disease. If plaque biofilm is not removed it can spread below the gum line breaking down the gum and bone that support your teeth. Your gums then pull away from the teeth which then forms periodontal pockets. Over time these pockets deepen causing your teeth to become loose and sometimes teeth may need to be removed. This in turn can lead to difficulties in eating, poorer dental aesthetics and reduce your quality of life.
What are the symptoms of Periodontitis?
- Often there are no symptoms
- Red, swollen, painful or bleeding gums
- Receding gums or gums pulling away from the tooth
- Tooth sensitivity near the gum line
- Loose or wobbly teeth
- Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth
What causes Periodontitis?
- Poor brushing and flossing
- Tobacco Smoking
- Certain medication
- Hormones (eg Pregnancy)
- Heart disease
How can you treat Periodontitis?
- Firstly it is essential to establish an excellent level of oral hygiene by correctly brushing and flossing your teeth daily. Giving up smoking can also greatly improve the health of your gums. Some of the treatments for Periodontitis include:
- Professional Mechanical Plaque Removal (PMPR). This is a deep cleaning treatment that carefully removes plaque biofilm and calculus from your teeth both above and below the gum line. Once the teeth are clean, the gum pockets can begin to heal.
- Conservative Periodontal Surgery. More commonly used when the gum pockets are very deep. The gum is gently lifted away from the tooth so the plaque biofilm and calculus can be cleaned under direct vision. The gum pocket is then directly reduced and tightened around the tooth.
- Gum Regeneration. Periodontitis often leads to gums receding. Your Periodontist may recommend to graft new gum tissue to thicken fragile gums and cover exposed teeth. During this treatment gum tissue is usually taken from the roof of your mouth.
- Periodontal Regeneration. Periodontitis destroys the bone supporting your teeth. It may be possible to use a regenerative procedure to reverse some of the damage. A graft bone substitute can be used to encourage your body to regenerate the lost bone and tissue.
- Dental Extraction. In the worst cases of Periodontitis, when bone loss is so severe that the tooth cannot be saved, removal may be recommended.
Please do not ignore painful or bleeding gums because the effects of Periodontitis cannot be completely reversed. The sooner Periodontitis is diagnosed and treated the more chance you have of preventing tooth loss. If you recognise any of the symptoms above, make an appointment with a dental professional for a consultation.