Understanding the Condition of Periodontitis
Another more technical term for the gums and bone that directly surround and support your teeth in your mouth is the Periodontium, also known as Periodontal Tissue. While the gums may seem to be nothing special – while the teeth do all the hard work of grinding, biting, and chewing – our gums are actually on guard and fighting all the time to preserve our dental health. Without the periodontal tissue we would not have protection around our teeth and the bones of the jaw that support the roots of teeth. Gums also help surround the teeth with nutrition, via the bloodstream, so they are actually a vital component of overall health.
When periodontal tissue gets infected, the first stage of that gum disease is called gingivitis. This level of infection is generally marked by swelling, some tenderness or soreness, and gums that bleed easily – for example when you rub against them with a toothbrush or stimulate them by flossing. All of these symptoms occur because of the presence of unwanted bacteria that creates a toxic environment within the gums themselves.
Treating that kind of gum problem is relatively easy and can sometimes be accomplished at home just by observing a good routine of oral hygiene including regular brushing, flossing, and eating of a healthy balanced diet. But left untreated minor gingivitis can suddenly erupt into a much more serious condition known as Periodontitis. At this stage the infection begins to deteriorate the gums, and as the gum tissue is destroyed it leaves an unhealthy gap or space around the base of the tooth. Left unguarded, this part of the tooth also gets infected, and it can start to lose its strength and density. If the situation progresses far enough the tooth will no longer have enough root substance or tightly surrounding gum tissue to keep it securely attached, and it will either fall out – leaving you with a missing tooth – or rot away until it needs to be extracted.
There are different stages of Periodontitis, and the aggressive stage is defined by this rapid loss of bone and teeth. Then there is chronic Periodontitis, which is probably the most common type of advanced gum disease. When in the chronic phase the gums start to recede or pull away from the teeth, leaving exposed spaces as we described earlier. There can also be Periodontitis that is fueled by other diseases such as heart disease or diabetes. Finally there is a condition known as Necrotizing Periodontal Disease. This form of gum disease creates lesions or tears in the gum tissue, creating open sores, and a very unsightly odor.
Of course none of these situations are good, and everyone wants to do whatever is necessary to avoid any form of periodontal disease. But the good news is that prevention of gum problems is easy – as long as you stick to a recommended program of dental hygiene, make regular visits to the Periodontist or Dentist for checkups, and live a generally healthy lifestyle. The easiest part of ensuring healthy Periodontium is just brushing and flossing and enjoying a healthy balanced diet – something that anyone can do on their own without having to spend lots of money, endure any special procedures, or take time to see your dental professional. If the gums do start to be sore or bleed, just give us a call and we can remedy your problem right away.