Did you know that severe periodontal disease currently affects approximately 19% of the world’s population even though it is preventable in the majority of cases? Periodontitis is a serious dental infection that occurs in the gums; the disease causes softening of the tissue surrounding your gums which ultimately leads to tooth loss. Fortunately, your dentist Stevenage can prevent your teeth from falling out and treat the effects of periodontitis through their expert care and treatment.
What are the different stages of periodontitis?
Gingivitis is the initial stage of periodontitis and can be characterised by the inflammation of the gums. The earliest and most common sign of gingivitis that most people experience is bleeding gums when brushing or flossing their teeth. Another distinct indication of gingivitis is a significant discolouration in your teeth which is caused by the formation and gradual build up of plaque. This can be caused due to inadequate maintenance of oral hygiene and by allowing food particle residues and debris to slowly build up on the surfaces of your teeth. As gingivitis progresses, you will notice your gums will begin to recede causing small pockets to form between your gums and teeth; this makes way for harmful bacteria to multiply thereby causing infection and potentially causing some bone loss to occur.
Periodontitis can be separated into two categories.
Moderate periodontal disease
When gingivitis is left to progress, bleeding and pain may occur around the teeth and the gums will begin to recede. You may also notice your teeth becoming slightly loose due to a loss in bone support, as prolonged exposure to the infection will continue to affect the bone that supports your teeth, by eroding it.
Advanced periodontal disease
When periodontitis reaches its most advanced stage, the connective tissue responsible for holding your teeth in place begins to deteriorate and your gums and bones eventually become destroyed. This can cause you to experience difficulty in and pain when chewing, the inability to bite hard foods, severely bad breath (halitosis) and in the final stages, loss of teeth.
What causes periodontitis?
The main cause of periodontitis is poor oral hygiene; your mouth carries many different types of bacteria and when you don’t clean your teeth thoroughly, the bacteria begin to grow and build up on your teeth forming plaque. Another common cause of periodontitis is smoking; it is also important to note that smoking may interfere with how your body responds to treatment for periodontitis, however studies have found that quitting smoking helps reduce the risk of developing periodontitis. Additional risk factors that increase your chances of developing periodontitis include a poor diet, a BMI that indicates you are obese, medications that hinder the flow of saliva, autoimmune diseases such as HIV and AIDS and hormonal changes in women during pregnancy.
What are the signs and symptoms of periodontitis?
Periodontitis can be detected in its early stages, so it is best to always keep a lookout for any signs so that they may be tackled straight away. Common signs to look out for include:
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Loose teeth
- Changes in the alignment of your teeth
- Red and swollen gums
- Plaque and tartar building up on the surface of your teeth
- Pain when chewing or biting food
- Bad breath.
Your dentist will be able to detect periodontitis in its earliest stages at a routine dental appointment, therefore it is important you have regular visits to the dentist to ensure any early signs can be identified and treated quickly to prevent the disease from progressing.
How is periodontitis treated?
Periodontitis can be treated in each of its stages, regardless of how advanced the disease has become; however it is important to note that as the disease progresses, it becomes more difficult to treat, so it is best to contact your dentist for treatment as soon as possible.
In its earlier stages, gingivitis can be treated by improved oral hygiene at home and by regularly visiting your hygienist who can remove the plaque on your teeth using professional cleaning tools. The most popular treatments carried out at this stage include scaling which removes tartar, and planing which smooths down the surface of your tooth roots to ensure bacteria is unable to stick to it.
When periodontitis has reached its more severe stages, you may require invasive treatments such as dental implants to replace teeth and their roots that have fallen out due to an intense build up of tartar. Some may even require a bone graft prior to having the implants fitted in if they have suffered bone loss.