Symptoms of periodontitis include redness, swelling, bleeding while brushing or flossing. In healthy adults, the immune system will kick in to try and heal the infection. However, if the root cause of the infection is left untreated, periodontitis can cause the gums to recede and extremely lead to tooth loss. The acids in the plaque bacteria, as well as the bacteria in the patient's saliva, wear away at the bone and tissues surrounding the tooth. When this occurs, teeth begin to loose at the root and will ever fall out if left untreated.
Gum disease begins with the growth of plaque bacteria in the mouth, which can trigger sensitivity and swelling around the gum line. One of the main contributing factors to the development of periodontitis is inadequate oral hygiene. When plaque is allowed to accumulate on the surface of the teeth, it ever leads to tartar builup. Tartar is a hard, calcified film that builds up below the gum line. A dentist or hygienist must remove Tartar. The risk factor for developing gum disease greatly increases when plaque and tartar buildup are not promptly dealt with.
Other causes include a family history of periodontitis, as well as the patient's individual medical history. Conditions such as diabetes and osteoporosis put a patient at an additional risk for developing periodontitis. In addition, when such conditions are present, the immune system is already in a weakened state, which could possibly make healing more difficult. Patients are most likely to develop gum disease during stressful periods in their life; during these times the patient may be likely to put their oral hygiene on the back burner. Hormonal changes that accompany events such as pregnancy and menopause may also make a patient more susceptible to developing infection. Certain medications such as antidepressants or statin drugs can also increase the likelihood of a patient developing periodontitis.
As with any condition, prevention is always the best cure. Brushing and flossing at least twice a day using a fluoridated toothpaste dramatically reduces the risk of gum disease. Chewing a sugar free gum in between meals can serve to starve the bacteria that cause gum disease. Limiting high sugar snacks and juices is also a good preventive measure. Scheduling regular professional dental cleansings is one of the most serious aspects of preventing plaque and tartar from building up, and can also enable the dentist to detect any inflammation before it can turn into an infection.
If you already have symptoms, it is important to see your dentist right away before the infection progresses. The dentist will be able to determine if the teeth have loosened or lifted, and will generally do a deep cleaning to prevent any further damage. Antibiotics may be prescribed in some cases, and in more advanced cases surgery may be necessary to restore severely receded gums or damaged teeth.
Periodontitis, or gum disease, affects the majority of people at some point in their lives. Symptoms can include swelling, tenderness, and boring around the gum lines and other oral structures. The acids in plaque bacteria, which eat away at the teeth and surrounding tissues, cause the infection. Gum disease is preceded by maintaining a healthy oral hygiene regiment, and by scheduling regular dental visits. It is completely treatable, and is best treated sooner rather than later to prevent the gums from receding or other damage to the teeth and gums.