What is periodontitis and what are the consequences?

With persistent poor oral hygiene, your immune system can be overwhelmed and periodontitis can develop from gingivitis.

According to the current German Oral Health Study, at least 50% of 35-44 year olds suffer from periodontitis. Among the 65-74 year olds it is even more than 65%.

Periodontitis describes the disease of the periodontium. The jawbone that anchors your tooth degrades due to ongoing inflammation. If it is too advanced and left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss.

The average 65-74 year old German has already lost 11 teeth (out of 28 teeth) due to periodontitis. That describes a loss of 40%.

Periodontitis is the main reason why around 1.3 million dental implants are placed in Germany every year.

How does periodontitis develop?

Periodontal disease starts with a simple inflammation of the gums, which is caused by toxins from the (bad) bacteria that live in your dental plaque. If you do not contain the gingivitis due to poor oral hygiene, the following will happen:

Gums are around each of your teeth. The gums are not firmly attached to your tooth. But between the gum line and your tooth there is a small furrow of 1-2mm (when healthy) deep, the so-called sulcus. This 1-2mm deep furrow can still be easily reached with a toothbrush and interdental brushes and can thus be freed from dental plaque. If this does not happen, the progressive gingivitis spreads and the furrow becomes several millimeters deep as a result.

Now a gum pocket has developed in which bacterial plaque can spread undisturbed. The bacteria living in it ensure that the inflammation continues to progress. In the advanced stages, your body reacts to this inflammation by breaking down the jawbone, which loosens the teeth and makes chewing difficult. If left untreated, periodontitis leads to tooth loss.

What are signs of periodontitis and how can you recognize them?

The onset of periodontitis is difficult for those affected to recognize.


Bleeding gum

is the first sign of periodontitis, but also that of previous gingivitis.


Reddening (up to bluish discoloration) and swelling of the gums are further signs, as well as unpleasant bad breath.


Loose teeth and difficulty chewing occur in the advanced stages.

However, a definitive diagnosis can only be made in a dental practice. The following examinations are carried out:

  1. During the periodontal pocket measurement, the depth of the periodontal pockets and thus the degradation of the jawbone is measured with a probe. A depth of more than 3.5 mm is referred to as periodontitis.
  2. X-rays are also taken to accurately diagnose the affected areas and document bone loss.

How is periodontitis treated?

In principle, bone loss cannot be reversed. Each subsequent measure serves to prevent further bone loss, to stop the inflammation and to maintain the status quo. That is why a timely diagnosis is extremely important. What is periodontitis treatment in the dental practice and what can you do at home?

The treatment in the dental practice depends on the progress of the periodontitis:

The closed periodontitis treatment describes the removal of bacterial deposits and tartar in the periodontal pockets with special instruments. You can imagine it like cleaning your teeth, just not above the gums on the tooth surface, but below the gums on the tooth root surface.

The open periodontitis treatment is used when the periodontitis and thus the pocket depth is far advanced. In this case, it is a surgical procedure in which the gums are opened and then the surface of the tooth roots in the depths of the pockets are freed from bacterial plaque and tartar and cleaned.

Bathroom patient “follow-up” includes the following:
A comprehensive, daily oral hygiene to keep the tooth surfaces and gum edges clean. This includes the correct use of toothbrushes, dental floss, tufted brushes and interdental brushes.

After about 4-6 weeks, the result of your oral care at home will be checked in the dental practice. If no inflammatory spots are discovered, the periodontitis can be considered to have healed. After that, regular check-ups and cleaning appointments (UPT-supportive periodontitis therapy) in the dental practice are mandatory.

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