Periodontitis can wreak havoc on both one’s mouth and also impact their overall health. It’s also quite avoidable if one pays attention to their oral health routine.
This form of gum disease, which stems from the Latin for “inflammation around the tooth,” can cause teeth to fall out and gum tissue to die. Its effects are far from confined to that area – it can send bacteria into the bloodstream and be a contributor to conditions like cancer and diabetes. That’s why brushing and flossing one’s teeth daily is essential.
Ideally, one’s gums are pink in the healthiest of scenarios. When gum disease strikes, it can make those gums change colors – they can be shades of red and purple, depending on how severe the infection is. It can hurt to even touch the area and chewing will probably become progressively more painful.
There are several types of periodontitis –
- Chronic – This type occurs the most frequently, affecting both adults and children. Plaque builds up and causes problems with the gums and teeth.
- Aggressive – This is more rare than the above. Young adults can get it and it moves very rapidly when it does happen.
- Necrotizing – When this occurs, gum tissue, supporting bone and tooth ligaments die since there is no blood supply to the affected area. Who is at risk for this? Immune-suppressed patients like those who have had chemotherapy for cancer or have HIV.
During the course of everyday eating and drinking, plaque forms on the tooth. It’s easily removed by a daily brushing and flossing routine. Should there be neglect in that area, it can lead to gingivitis, which is mild inflammation. If one goes back to their regular oral health routine, this can be reversed.
If one continues to ignore the issues caused by the gingivitis, then it can progress even more. The plaque then goes under the gumline and hardens into tartar. People cannot remove tartar on their own – only a dentist can do that.
Should this be allowed to continue, pockets of plaque, tartar and bacteria form and cause one of the forms of periodontitis. Now this reaches a stage where dental intervention will be needed lest there be tooth loss or worse.
Treatment and Prevention
This will have to be diagnosed by a dentist to ensure that it is periodontitis and not some other condition.
A typical first course of action may be scaling and root planing. The dentist does a deeper cleaning than a routine visit, going under the gumline to look for pockets of plaque to remove. They also debride the area to remove rough spots on the roots.
This may also require them to prescribe antibiotics. There are several methods of distribution depending how severe the gum disease is. It may entail rinsing with a special mouthwash or taking a pill orally. Other methods include gels, and slow-release antibiotics that are inserted into the gums via a small chip. Tiny microspheres can also be inserted and release the antibiotics that way.
It may turn out that the above may not work – the gum disease may have progressed too far. The next step will likely be surgery.
- Flap surgery – A periodontist cleans out the tartar and then stitches the gums to the teeth to close any pockets and make it easier to brush and floss.
- Grafts – This procedure is done if bone and tissue have been destroyed. The periodontist puts a piece of mesh between jaw and teeth and this guides the regeneration efforts.
It can’t be stressed enough that simply maintaining a good oral health routine and making a trip to the dentist twice a year is almost always all that is needed to keep gingivitis and periodontitis at bay.
Additional actions one can take include not smoking and maintaining a good diet that is not heavy on sugar. Doing this can lead to a happy mouth, especially by saving one’s teeth and preventing potentially expensive surgeries.
Dr. Dorothy Anasinski and the staff at Dental Specialists of Niles are skilled at providing periodontal work. They will be glad to restore one’s smile from gum disease and show how to prevent it in the future.