Periodontitis is a gum infection that is commonly manifested as inflamed gums and damage of the supporting structures, including the bones of the teeth. It affects more than 47% of American adults and is more prevalent in individuals over 65 years old. More men are affected by the condition than women. It’s important to maintain good overall periodontal health as one age, especially since it’s important to overall health and wellbeing.

Defining Periodontitis

Periodontitis is a common condition that is often referred to as ‘gum disease. It is characterized as inflammation of the gums and deeper periodontal structures, with redness and swelling and sometimes bleeding when brushing the teeth.

Causes of Periodontitis

Periodontitis is caused by bacteria that has buildup around the tooth and along the lining of the gum in the form of plaque. Unremoved plaque can cause the development of tartar (hardened calcium), which promotes the growth of the bacterial plaque and encourages it towards the root of the tooth.

Signs of Early Periodontitis

Periodontitis is caused by periodontal bacteria that are naturally found in the mouth. However, plaque accumulation can cause these periodontal bacteria to increase significantly. This typically takes place between the teeth that are hard to reach when brushing. Individuals can expect to experience mild inflammation, swollen and bleeding gums or discolored layer of plaque on the teeth during the early stages of periodontitis. Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontitis.

Gingivitis Progress to Periodontitis

If left without proper treatment, it is possible for gingivitis to progress to periodontitis. Signs of this progression isn’t always noticeable so appropriate treatment can be administered. When signs are present, individuals might experience increased gum bleeding, which can occur during brushing or eating, or even without provocation, foul breath, receding gum and even pain. The inflammation progresses into the root, disrupting the attachment between gum and root, creating a periodontal pocket ideal for the bacteria to flourish and the condition to progress.

Treating Periodontitis

Following a thorough assessment, a periodontitis sufferer is often treated in a manner that aims to eliminate the disease-causing bacterial plaque and to reestablish optimal oral hygiene and practices. This process includes:

  • The dental practitioner will convey oral hygiene instruction and advice with the goal of minimizing the level of bacteria in the mouth and the degree of inflammation.
  • Professional cleaning to remove soft deposits, teeth polished and treated with fluoride and the removal of bacterial deposits and tartar from the root surfaces of the teeth and periodontal pockets.
  • Antibiotic therapy is commonly needed to tackle active or persistent gum infections that have been resistant to oral hygiene measures.
  • Reassessment several weeks after the initial treatment to check treatment progress
  • Corrective (surgical) treatment may be necessary to remove plaque bacteria and deposits beneath the gum and on the root surfaces.

Periodontitis can significantly impact an individual’s oral health and overall wellbeing. Developing thorough hygiene habits and regular professional examinations and cleaning can aid in preventing the condition. With the right amount of discipline, care, and support, you can have healthy teeth and gums.

Dr. Emma Wu: Detecting and Providing Solutions for those with Periodontitis

Dr. Emma Wu & Associates have been helping individuals with Periodontitis since we opened our location in North Andover. If you need an oral consultation, be sure to give us a call today!

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