Periodontal disease is a serious infection of the gums caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth. This condition is quite common, affecting 47.2 percent of adults aged 30 and older, according to a recent CDC report.
Periodontal disease generally starts with milder symptoms like red, swollen, and bleeding gums. Over time, the condition can progress to aggressive periodontal disease that results in the rapid loss of gum attachment and bone tissue.
Due to the seriousness of this condition, it is important to understand how periodontal disease develops, treatment options, and prevention techniques.
Symptoms and Causes of Oral Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease refers to an inflammation of the supporting structures around the teeth. When bacteria and other harmful microorganisms adhere to the surfaces of the teeth and the pockets surrounding the teeth, an infection can develop that causes long-term or chronic inflammation.
Common symptoms of periodontal disease include:
- Swollen gums
- Halitosis or bad breath
- Plaque or tartar buildup
- Sensitive teeth
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Changes in bite
- Pus between the gums and teeth
- Loose or lost teeth
Periodontal Disease Stages and Symptoms
Gum disease takes several forms, ranging from its mildest form, gingivitis, to its most severe form, advanced periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease and the only stage that is reversible with early treatment. During this stage, plaque builds up on the gum line, causing inflammation. You may also experience other symptoms, such as tender or swollen gums, mild gum recession, bad breath, and bleeding while brushing and flossing.
The next stage, periodontitis, affects the ligaments that hold the teeth in place. An infection of this level can cause significant damage to the connective tissues, causing pockets to develop between the gums and teeth. You may also experience bright red and swollen gums, chronic bad breath, increased space between the teeth, and teeth that feel loose.
Advanced periodontitis is the most severe form of gum disease and can affect your overall health. At this stage, there is a loss of tissue and bone that hold the teeth in place. The teeth may become misaligned, shift, or loosen. In some instances, tooth extraction may be necessary.
Treatment Care for Each Stage of Periodontal Disease
Periodontal disease treatment options are based on the stage of the condition and the patient’s overall health.
As the earliest stage of periodontal disease, gingivitis can generally be reversed with professional cleanings and proper at-home oral care. Your dental team will create a personalized treatment plan and provide advice on how to treat the condition. At-home care generally consists of regular brushing, daily flossing, and the use of mouthwash.
If gingivitis advances to periodontitis, your dentist may recommend scaling and root planing, which may occur over multiple visits. Scaling involves removing plaque and tartar below the gum line, as well as disinfecting the area with medication. Root planing is the smoothing of the root surfaces to promote the healing of the gum tissue and the reattachment of the gums to the roots of the teeth.
3. Advanced Periodontitis
When scaling and root planing are not enough to completely treat the condition, the periodontal pockets may not properly heal. Periodontal surgery may be recommended for patients with advanced periodontitis. Surgery can remove bacteria from under the gums, prevent future gum damage, and reshape the bones that support the teeth.
Prevention of Periodontal Disease
As periodontal disease is fairly prevalent, it’s important to understand how to avoid developing this condition. The following tips can help you maintain good oral health and avoid periodontal disease and other oral health diseases.
- Develop excellent oral hygiene habits to rid the mouth of harmful bacteria that can contribute to gum disease.
- Reevaluate your diet and ensure that you are receiving the nutrients you need for healthy gums, such as vitamin C.
- Discontinue bad habits that can harm the health of your teeth and gums, such as tobacco use.
- Reduce your stress levels, and if you grind or clench your jaw, consider getting fit for a mouthguard.