Most people have heard the terms “gingivitis” and “periodontal disease (or periodontitis);” however, most people are unware of the specifics and tend to underestimate just how severe this disease can become if left untreated by dental experts.
Untreated periodontal disease has been correlated with a host of adverse health effects and conditions – including tooth and gum loss as well as an increased risk of heart attack, stroke and other serious health problems – which is why it’s extremely important to take the time to familiarize yourself with this serious gum disease.
What Is Periodontitis and How Is it Caused?
Periodontitis is an infection characterized by severe inflammation (“-itis”) of the periodontium, or the supportive tissues that surround each tooth. This infection can range in severity, with mild cases simply resulting in swollen, slightly painful gums to severe cases that ultimately result in tooth loss. The most common causes of periodontitis are excessive plaque buildup and overall poor oral hygiene.
The good news is that the vast majority of periodontal disease cases can be prevented simply by adhering to a good dental hygiene regimen.1
About Some of the Most Common Types of Periodontal Disease
· Aggressive periodontitis results in a sudden loss of gum attachment and leads to chronic bone destruction. This type of periodontitis is typically seen in otherwise healthy patients and is often rooted in genetics, or characterized by familial aggregation.
· Chronic periodontitis – the most common type of periodontal disease – is characterized by chronic inflammation of the periodontium and leads to the formation of deep pockets and receded gums.
· Necrotizing periodontitis is essentially tissue death, or necrosis, within the alveolar bone, periodontal ligament and gingival tissues. This type of periodontal disease is most commonly seen in patients who suffer from systemic conditions such as malnutrition, HIV and other immuno-compromising disorders.
· Periodontitis caused by systemic disease is often diagnosed early in a patient’s life. Common contributing factors include diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disorders and other similar conditions.
Common Signs and Symptoms1
· Bad breath
· Loose teeth
· Metal-like taste in the mouth
· Gums that appear red or purple in color
· Bleeding when flossing or brushing teeth
· Swollen or receding gums that hurt when touched
· New, extra spaces that appear between teeth and gums
· Feeling as though your teeth do not fit the same or that your bite has been altered
How Is it Diagnosed?
Skilled dentists such as those at Periodontal Associates are capable of diagnosing the type and severity of periodontitis with tremendous ease. During your oral examination, your dentist will gently insert a periodontal probe under the gum line surrounding each tooth and pay close attention to how far the probe slides below the gum line. If it sits near the top and barely slides down, your gums are healthy; if the probe extends farther down below the gum line, it’s highly possible you have some type of periodontal disease.
Common Treatment Options
There are numerous treatment options available for periodontitis, with each one varying in terms of cost, efficacy, invasiveness, etc. Our skilled oral health professionals will take the type and severity of your unique periodontitis situation into consideration when suggesting potential courses of treatment, but some of the options we frequently recommend include:
· Dental implants
· Tissue regeneration
· Scaling and root planing
· Pocket elimination surgery
Think You May Have Periodontitis?
If it’s been a while since you’ve visited the dentist or you’ve experienced any of the potential signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, we encourage you to schedule an appointment for a dental checkup at your earliest convenience. The sooner you treat this leading cause of tooth loss, the better the outcome and treatment options will be.
If you have questions about the different types of periodontal disease or you’d like to learn more about which treatment option is best for you, contact your nearest Periodontal Associates to schedule an appointment today!