Periodontitis is a stage of gum disease where the bone holding the teeth in has receded away. Read about what can be done about this common disease. Or call (805) 388-5700. Your Dentist Camarillo CA.
According to the American Dental Association, three out of four Americans over age 35 have some form of periodontal disease, the major cause of tooth loss in adults. Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease that, if left untreated, can progress to the loss of bone and tissues that support the tooth -- periodontitis.
Periodontitis is categorized by the extent of bone loss, starting with mild periodontitis and progressing to moderate, and eventually advanced periodontitis. It also is diagnosed as being localized if only one or a few teeth are affected, or generalized if all the teeth are involved.
Bacteria that accumulate at and below the gum line cause periodontitis. The bacteria release toxic substances that trigger the breakdown of the gum and bone. The body responds with an inflammatory response in which it essentially turns on itself and destructs the bone and tissues around the teeth. This is the body's way of warding off infectious agents.
The gum then separates from the teeth, forming a gap called a periodontal pocket. If left untreated, periodontitis can lead not only to tooth loss and but also aggravate systemic illnesses. The signs of periodontitis may include:
- Gums that bleed when brushing or flossing
- Gums that are red, swollen, or tender
- Bad breath or bad taste
- Gum recession (gums that pulled away from the teeth)
- Loosening of the teeth
- Teeth that migrated from their original position
- Loss of teeth
Very often, however, people are not aware of having periodontitis because it can progress without pain. It is possible to not exhibit warning signs and still have periodontitis. That is why it is very important to have routine periodontal screenings so that the early signs of periodontal disease can be detected and treated before it becomes a major problem.
Periodontitis is treated in three phases. The first phase involves stopping the disease activity and progression of bone loss. The bacterial deposits (plaque and tartar) that formed above and underneath the gums need to be removed and the root surfaces of the teeth smoothed to enhance healing and deter future plaque retention. This treatment is called scaling and root planing. During this phase of treatment, a dentist will review the patient's oral hygiene technique, and give them advice as to how to modify certain risk factors associated with periodontal disease.
If the periodontal disease is more advanced, surgical treatment may be indicated. The purpose of this phase of treatment is to create an environment that is more amenable to health and, if possible, bring back some of the bone that was lost to the disease. In some forms of periodontitis, antibiotic treatment may be indicated. If this is the case, a bacterial culture may be required to test for harmful bacteria and to establish what antibiotics they are susceptible to.
Periodontal disease is a chronic condition that, like many others, has to be closely monitored, even after active treatment. The maintenance (third) phase is crucial to the success of any treatment. Daily brushing and flossing is essential in controlling the ever-developing plaque, as is periodic periodontal maintenance care with a professional scaling of the teeth. Periodontal status will be closely monitored, so that changes can be identified and treated as early as possible.