If you have been diagnosed with or suspect that you have periodontitis, it is important to seek treatment as soon as you can. This condition is a serious infection of the gums due to bacteria that have been accumulated for a long time. When left untreated, it can progress, damaging your teeth even more and even your bones.
Periodontitis can be prevented and stopped with treatment and proper oral hygiene. It is important that you see your dentist and follow their advice for best results.
What is Periodontitis?
This common gum disease causes damage to the soft tissues and bones that support the teeth. The name means inflammation which can be found around the teeth. This happens when bacteria stick to the surface of the teeth and their surrounding pockets where they multiply. When this happens, your immune system reacts, releasing toxins which then causes inflammation.
As periodontitis progresses, it may lead to the loss of teeth. But it can get more serious because it can also increase the risks of stroke and heart attack among other health problems.
The most common cause of this disease is a sticky, clear membrane that grows on the surface of the teeth – called bacterial plaque. If this is not removed, the membrane eventually hardens and turns into tartar or calculus.
Stages of Periodontitis
The disease starts as a simple inflammation which progresses over time. To understand the best ways to treat periodontitis, it’s good to know how it gets worse until treatment is given.
- Inflammation – As stated, periodontitis starts as an inflammation. This is more commonly known as gingivitis. One of the first signs of inflammation is when your gums bleed when you brush your teeth. You may also see that the color of your teeth is changing which is a sign of plaque. It is normal to have bacteria in your teeth but it can become harmful when they dramatically increase.
- Early periodontal disease – In the early stages, you will notice your gums pulling away from your teeth and there may be small pockets in between. This is where bacteria accumulate and your body will try to fight the infection causing your gum tissues to recede.
- Moderate to advanced periodontitis – If still untreated, it will progress to moderate and advanced periodontitis. You will then notice bleeding around the teeth and gum and it will be painful and eventually the connective tissue holding the teeth will deteriorate.
Treating periodontitis involves removing the plaque that has built up around the teeth and the bacterial deposits on the gums.
- Oral Hygiene – See your dentist immediately at the first sign of periodontitis. The first step is you will be given instructions on how to reduce the bacteria in your mouth by keeping your teeth and gums clean. Aside from brushing twice a day, you need to floss to remove plaque and you must try to avoid smoking.
- Professional Cleaning – Oral prophylaxis or professional cleaning is required to remove plaque buildup and tartar. This procedure thoroughly cleans the roots and polishes the teeth which cannot be achieved by simple brushing. Your teeth will also be treated with fluoride. Sometimes, you may need deep cleaning to clean the pockets and scrape off tartar.
- Antibiotics – If there is a lot of pain and the infection has spread, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection more effectively. This is especially important if the infection does not go away after professional cleaning. The antibiotic can be an oral tablet or capsule or it can also be a mouthwash or gel.
- Surgery – In the worst case scenario, surgery may be required to treat acute periodontitis. The procedure will clean deposits under the gums where they are lifted up to clean the roots of the teeth.