What is Periodontitis? Signs, Symptoms, and Treatments

Normal vs Periodontitis

Most of us know that caring for our teeth is as important as caring for our body. As well as showing symptoms of more severe health conditions, failure to brush and care for our teeth can open us up to infections and a whole world of pain. Hence why many of us make sure to floss and brush for at least two minutes before and after bed. It’s also why making sure to visit our dentists regularly is such a pressing priority. 

For the most part, we consider the avoidance of things like holes and decay in our teeth themselves when it comes to these measures. In reality, though, our teeth aren’t the only thing we need to consider when it comes to looking after our mouths.

Our gums actually need as much attention if we’re to maintain proper dental hygiene. That’s because a failure to pay attention here can lead to issues such as gingivitis and, as we’re going to look at here, periodontitis. 

What is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease which can impact everything from our gums to our tongues and more. Effectively, this is what happens when issues such as gingivitis remain untreated. 

If you fall foul, you may notice that the inner layers of your gums begin to pull apart, creating pockets on either side of your teeth which leave room for debris you can’t remove from brushing alone. If still left untreated, these pockets will continue to grow and could leave you facing severe issues including the loss of teeth and other serious conditions like bad breath and infections. It’s enough to send fear into the heart of anyone, and it’s a reality an astounding 47.2% of Americans are thought to face. And, those are just the individuals who’ve received diagnosis! 

Plaque is, undeniably, the main culprit of this gum problem, with improper brushing leaving plaque around our teeth, which leads to bacteria build up right by our gums. Even if you think you brush thoroughly, it’s possible that issues like diabetes and HIV can lead to this problem as they compromise your immune system. In some cases, even medications which reduce saliva build-up can be behind a diagnosis. 

In some instances, it’s even possible that you won’t notice there’s a problem until your dentist picks up on it at your next appointment. Still, there are some obvious signs and symptoms to look out for, and we’re going to consider some of them here. 

Symptoms of Periodontitis

While some cases of periodontitis go unnoticed, there are usually pretty tell-tale signs that an issue is developing before gum disease becomes so advanced as to need extreme treatment. The symptoms you’ll want to look out for include – 

Gums which bleed easily

Too many of us ignore bleeding gums when we brush, assuming it’s just a case of brushing too hard rather than a sign of anything serious. The reality is, though, that we wouldn’t overlook that amount of blood from any other part of our body, and we shouldn’t overlook it from our gums either!

If your gums bleed easily when you’re brushing, it’s a sure sign that they’re struggling with at least a case of gingivitis. If this is the only issue, you should find that flossing and paying more attention to brush around your gums solves the problem. But, if bleeding persists, it’s possible that periodontitis has already set in.

Inflamed and sore gums

Swelling and soreness is another sign that all is not as it should be with your gums. In general, your gums should be flesh-colored and pain-free. If you notice them looking violently red or becoming painful to the touch, it’s a sure sign that gum disease is taking its toll.

Pockets between your gums and teeth

Pockets between your gums and teeth are a pretty sure sign that issues here have gone beyond just a classic case of gingivitis. This is something you’ll most often see when you floss or brush. Make sure to look in the mirror during these activities, and it’ll soon become apparent where your teeth have separated from your gums. 

Bad breath

Like bleeding gums, bad breath is one of the most well-known gum disease symptoms. That’s because periodontitis involves rotting gum tissue which, unsurprisingly, doesn’t smell that great. The build-up of plaque in those gum pockets can get a little whiffy, too! If you forever have a bad taste in your mouth, even after brushing, then you shouldn’t ignore the possibility that you’re falling foul to periodontitis.

These symptoms will worsen the longer periodontitis is left untreated until you begin to notice extreme issues like loose and missing teeth. That’s why it’s vital to seek the following treatments as soon as the problem rears its ugly head. 

How do you Treat Periodontitis?

For the most part, treatment involves visiting a periodontitis expert like the team at Boston Dental. These are qualified professionals who specialize in treatment plans for cases like these. Of course, what they recommend depends entirely upon the severity of your case, but some standard options for treatment plans include – 

Prevention

As with anything tooth-related, prevention is one of the best periodontist treatments of all. If your periodontitis is mild during your visit, the chances are that your dentist will recommend things like flossing, taking time to brush around your gums with the right toothpaste, and even regular visits to ensure that things are improving rather than progressing. If caught early enough, methods as simple as these could result in complete healing of your gums before you know.

Scaling and root planing

While prevention methods are effective in many cases, there will be some instances where your dentist or hygienist deems treatment necessary before prevention is possible. Often, this will take the form of scaling and root planing, a deep clean which can clear out all those pockets where plaque and bacteria have begun building. This can ensure that further bacteria doesn’t hinder your efforts to improve your cleaning routine, leaving you to improve gum health as you move forward.

Grafts

In some cases, more extreme measures are necessary for ensuring that periodontitis is stopped in its tracks. One of these measures if grafting, a process of surgically grafting tissue from one area of the mouth to locations of recession or extreme pocketing between teeth and gums. As well as helping to improve gum health, this can go a long way towards enhancing aesthetics in areas of extremely receding gums.

Arestin

At Boston Dental, we also offer a treatment called Arestin. This is an antibiotic which a dentist will place into those pocketed gums after a deep cleaning session. These antibiotics then release over a twenty-one day period, working to improve gum health over time. 

Crown lengthening

You may also find that crown lengthening is an option in the case where deep fillings or decay come below the gumline. This involves surgically exposing more of the tooth’s crown by lowering the supporting bone in the hope that this can lead to better treatment, and improved gum health as a result. 

As you can tell from everything we’ve mentioned so far, catching periodontitis early is key to retaining your teeth and your gum health moving forward. As well as visiting your dentist on a regular basis, then, you should keep an eye out for the symptoms mentioned, and alert your dentist if you have any worries at all.

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