What is periodontitis?
Periodontitis is an infection that is sometimes referred to as gum disease. It mostly affects your gums, but, if left untreated, can spread infection to your jaw or other parts of your body, which can have serious repercussions on your overall health.
What causes periodontitis?
What happens is that plaque builds up on your teeth, or at the gum line, and then hardens and festers, carrying bacteria into the gums. A periodontitis infection can happen if you don't practice good oral hygiene, like brushing your teeth and flossing regularly. You are also at a greater risk for the disease if you have underlying health problems, like dry mouth or diabetes. Lifestyle choices, like smoking, can also put you at a greater risk.
What are the symptoms of periodontitis?
Symptoms of periodontitis include:
-Bleeding when you floss or brush
-A change in your bite
What can be done about periodontitis?
If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should see a dentist who offers periodontal services. A dentist with experience handling periodontitis can diagnose your problem and help you fix it. A dentist, or periodontist, will evaluate your medical history, examine your teeth and gums and may take some X-rays of your teeth and jaw to diagnose you. If they do find that you have periodontitis, they will likely rate your infection by giving it a stage or grade, which will help them understand how serious the problem is and what to do.
If the case is mild, you probably won't need any surgical procedures. Nonsurgical treatments include scaling (removing the tarter and plaque from under your gums, possibly using a laser) or antibiotics.
If your case is more serious and advanced, then surgical treatment might be necessary. Surgical treatment could come in the form of a soft tissue graft, where the periodontal dentist takes grafts of soft tissue, usually from the top of your mouth, and grafts them into the gaps created by the infection. Another surgical option that a periodontal dental practice might resort to is flap surgery, where small cuts are made in your gums so the dentist can more effectively clean away the plaque. If the disease is really advanced, some damage may have already been done to your bone. In that case, a bone graft might be necessary. A bone graft will graft tiny pieces of bone into gaps and reshape your jaw and the base of your teeth.
The best way to avoid periodontitis is to keep your teeth clean, but, if you need to be treated, no fear, there are many professional periodontal dental practices out there, and they will look after you and seek to provide you with the best available care.