Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, is a very common affliction of the gums caused by poor hygiene. Not taking care of your teeth allows bacteria to collect and wreak havoc on your teeth and gums, wearing away the protective coatings and damaging tissue beneath. People with periodontitis may experience tender or painful gums, swelling, changing of color, and in some cases, bleeding.
Periodontal disease generally starts out with gingivitis. The Gingivitis often manifests in the form of bleeding gums. Usually, this occurs after brushing one’s teeth or eating food with jagged edges or rough surfaces. The gums usually aren’t painful or tender to the touch, but in more advanced stages, they can be.
The onset of gingivitis is caused by poor oral hygiene. Regular brushing removes plaque from the teeth and restores protective minerals. This occurs along the surface of the teeth, even up to and just under the gum line. When your teeth aren’t in good shape, the plaque dominates the teeth. It wears away at the protective coatings and eventually the enamel underneath. Plaque at the gum line will cause damage to the gum tissue, causing inflammation and bleeding.
Periodontal disease itself is the next stage after gingivitis. At this stage, the plaque hardens to form tartar, which is a haven for bacteria. The bacteria inside the tartar continuously damage gum tissue and tooth enamel, and this damage can be irreversible. By allowing the bacteria to propagate, infection in the gums becomes more likely.
While gingivitis can feel like an inconvenient issue and nothing more, periodontitis can have drastically more serious effects. As the gum tissue continues to be damaged by the bacterial infection, the infection will spread deeper into the gums, even spreading to the teeth and jaw bones.
In conclusion, the absolute best form of treatment is prevention. You can protect your mouth by brushing and flossing combined with regular checkups at your dentist every six months. If you already have periodontal disease, the course of action is a bit different. First of all, your dentist must make an accurate diagnosist. To determine how advanced the disease is, a dental probe measures pocket depth under the gums. Deep pockets signify a more advanced stage and require more intensive treatment.
Treatment usually consists of scaling, root planing, and antibiotics. Antibiotics treat the infection itself, preventing it from spreading and killing off the existing bacteria. Scaling scrapes off the hardened tartar from the teeth and gums while root planing alters the roots of your teeth. This reduces crevices and divots where bacteria collects. This will help reduce the likelihood of a return infection.