What is periodontitis?
Periodontitis, often referred to simply as “gum disease”, is a very common condition in which the gums and deeper periodontal structures of the mouth become inflamed. This inflammation usually takes the form of swelling, redness, and a tendency toward bleeding during brushing, and is the body’s response to bacteria that has been allowed to accumulate on the teeth.
Although inflammation is part of the body’s natural defence system, periodontitis can cause serious and long lasting damage. The inflammation can spread down the gums and along the roots of the teeth, causing destruction of the ligaments and supporting bones of the jaw.
Some changes you may notice if you are experiencing periodontitis may include:
- Increased bleeding from the gums;
- Bad breath;
- Changes in the position of the teeth and jaw;
- Gum recession; and
- Pain in the gums or teeth.
Your dentist is able to detect periodontitis at a much earlier stage during routine examinations and can monitor the status of your periodontitis using a screening index. The severity and speed of progression of periodontitis depends on a number of factors, including:
- The number and type of bacteria present;
- How strong the patient’s natural defences are; and
- The presence or absence of certain risk factors, such as whether or not the patient smokes.
The best method for preventing periodontitis is by adopting a thorough oral hygiene habit, along with regular professional exams by a dentist. Because periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss, it is recommended to keep on top of proper dental care. Other problems resulting from periodontitis can include painful abscesses, drifting of the teeth, and root exposure, as well as potential risks to your general health such as increased risk for heart disease and diabetes.