What is periodontitis and what are the consequences?
With persistent poor oral hygiene, the immune system can be overwhelmed and periodontal disease can develop from untreated gingivitis. The plaque which has been irritating the gum tissue will spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums and stimulate a chronic inflammatory response. The tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. The gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets between the teeth. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen, bacteria, plaque and tartar will gather in the depth of the pocket increasing the chance of more bone being destroyed. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and the jawbone. If it is too advanced and left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.
The onset of periodontitis is difficult for those affected to recognize. At home gum disease may be difficult to detect in the early stages until it is advanced.
- red, swollen or tender gums
- bleeding while brushing, cleaning between the teeth or eating hard foods
- persistent bad breath
- pus between the gums and teeth
- loose teeth
A definitive diagnosis can only be made in the dental office. The following procedures will be performed:
- During the periodontal pocket measurement, the depth of the periodontal pockets and thus the degradation of the jawbone is measured with a probe.
- X-rays are also taken to accurately diagnose the affected areas and document bone loss.
The treatment in the dental practice depends on the progress of the periodontitis:
The treatment in the dental office depends on the severity of the periodontitis. The dentist and dental hygienist will determine the best treatment plan. Once the treatment is completed the dentist and dental hygienist will recommend regular maintenance cleanings (periodontal maintenance cleanings), usually 3-4 times a year. These periodontal cleanings and excellent home care habits are essential in maintaining dental health and keeping periodontal disease under control.