What is Periodontal Disease and How Do I Manage It?

Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is a serious form of gum infection. Periodontitis damages the soft tissue in your gum that can destroy the bones that support your teeth and could cause them to become loose or fall out. 

While periodontitis is a common gum disease, it is also preventable. Here are some at-home measures to take:

  • Brush your teeth twice a day; once in the morning and again before you go to bed. 
  • Floss your teeth every day. 
  • Visit your dentist for your regular preventive check-ups. 

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bright red or purplish-red gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Spitting out blood after you floss or brush your teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth or loss of teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • Receding gum line
  • Spaces between your teeth
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together as you bite down

Most people will not notice the symptoms of periodontal disease, but your dentist can find it during your cleanings. However, if you start to notice any of these symptoms, make an appointment with your dentist immediately. The sooner you are treated for periodontal symptoms, the better your chance to preserve the teeth. 

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Periodontitis begins with untreated plaque build-up on your teeth. If plaque is left untreated for a long period of time, it could cause a series of problems. 

  • The build-up of plaque on your teeth begins when starches and sugars begin to interact negatively with bacterias in your mouth. Plaque forms on your teeth quickly, but brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing can help remove it. 
  • Plaque hardens into tartar on your teeth and can no longer be removed by a toothbrush or floss.  Tartar contains bacteria and biofilms which can trigger damage. Your dentist or hygienist can remove these stubborn, stuck-on tartar deposits.
  • Plaque can lead to gingivitis, which is the mildest form of gum disease. Gingivitis is irritation and inflammation of the gums around the base of your teeth. You can reverse gingivitis during a professional cleaning or with good oral hygiene at home.
  • Gum inflammation can lead to periodontitis, which could eventually cause pockets to develop between your teeth and gums that fill with plaque or tartar. Over time, these pockets will become deeper and fill with more bacteria. If you do not have these pockets treated, the infection can cause loss of tooth or bone. 
  • A healthy mouth is an overall part of a healthy body. There are many systemic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes that can link to periodontal disease. 

Risk Factors of Periodontal Disease

There are certain risk factors that can put you at a  higher risk of having periodontitis. A few of these risk factors include:

  • Gingivitis
  • Poor oral health habits
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy or menopause
  • Recreational drug use, such as weed or vaping
  • Obesity
  • Infrequent nutrition
  • Certain types of medications
  • Certain types of diseases, such as diabetes or Crohn’s disease

If you feel you are at a higher risk for periodontal disease, discuss your concerns at your next dental appointment and learn how to reduce your risk. 

Management and Treatment for Periodontal Disease

The severity of the periodontitis will determine the type of treatment you will need. There are many types of treatments, such as:

  • Good oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day – before bed and after you wake up – can help keep your teeth in tip-top shape. Make sure you floss before you brush your teeth to assure you will clean any loosened bacteria and food particles. Good oral hygiene can help reduce the odds of creating an oral environment in your mouth that is favorable to bacterias that cause periodontitis.  
  • Professional cleanings can help remove plaque from periodontitis using methods called scaling and root planing. Scaling refers to scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line. While root planning helps remove rough spots around the roof of the teeth by removing bacteria that cause periodontitis. 
  • Prescribed medication such as antimicrobial mouthwash or antibiotic gel will help reduce the bacteria in your mouth. 

When it comes to periodontal disease, It is always best to be proactive to give the best opportunity to avoid surgical treatments. Prevention and early detection of periodontal disease are key. Contact Westdale Dental today to schedule your appointment.