Periodontitis Disease | Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Unlike the first stage of gum diseasegingivitis, periodontitis disease is more advanced and severe. Not forgetting, from our previous post, which we talked about gingivitis in detail. Whereby, according to Colgate, gingivitis may lead to Gum Disease if care ain’t taken.

Basically, gum disease occurs from a set of inflammatory conditions affecting the tissues surrounding the teeth. In its early stage, periodontal or gum disease is also called gingivitis. As placed by Crest, gingivitis happens when plaque, (a naturally-occurring sticky film containing bacteria), builds up on teeth. Causing the inflammation of the surrounding gum tissue.

Periodontitis Disease
What You Should Know About Periodontitis Disease » Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

In fact, plaque produces toxins that irritate the gums. Of course, this can cause the gums to become inflamed, making them red or puffy, or causing them to bleed.

Not to mention, this harmful plaque bacteria can even lead to issues beyond gingivitis like weakened tooth enamel. Even with regular brushing, it’s important to make sure you’re taking care of your gum line. As your gums are the site of the infection, they are where you will likely first see the damage created by gingivitis.

If you have mild gum disease (gingivitis), you can regain healthy gums by paying attention to oral hygiene. Here is the complete guide on Gingivitis and related early signs & symptoms.

What is Periodontitis Disease?

To enumerate, Periodontitis (pere-o-don-TIE-tis) is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports your teeth. In addition, Periodontitis can cause teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss. Although it is important to realize, periodontitis is common but largely preventable.

It’s usually the result of poor oral hygiene. For example, brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily and getting regular dental checkups can greatly improve your chances of successful treatment for periodontitis. And can also reduce your chance of developing it in the first place.

Periodontitis Disease
Periodontitis: why we need a vaccine for gum disease

By all means, follow a regular oral care routine of brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day to maintain healthy gums. Some dentists may recommend an antibacterial rinse or mouthwash. Especially, to help preserve healthy gums after you are treated for gum disease like gingivitis.

If you suspect you have gum disease and are experiencing some of its symptoms such as sore gums, it may help to compare your gums. Particularly, to the pictures of healthy gums and gum disease, from gingivitis to advanced periodontitis.

Types of periodontal disease include;

Chronic Periodontitis 

It is the most common type, affecting mostly adults, though children can be affected, too. This type is caused by plaque buildup and involves slow deterioration that may improve and get worse over time. But, causes destruction in the gums and bone and loss of teeth if not treated.

Aggressive Periodontitis 

It usually begins in childhood or early adulthood and affects only a small number of people. It tends to affect families and causes rapid progression of bone and tooth loss if untreated.

Necrotizing Periodontitis

This is characterized by the death of gum tissue, tooth ligaments and supporting bone caused by lack of blood supply (necrosis), resulting in severe infection. Equally important, this type generally occurs in people with a suppressed immune system. Such as from HIV infection, cancer treatment or other causes — and malnutrition.

What are the Main Causes of Periodontitis?

gingival recession happens after a person has experienced a loss of tissue in the gum. It exposes the fragile roots of the teeth to bacteria and plaque and can lead to decay. Since the gingival recession has direct causes and predisposing factors, orthodontic treatment is able to prevent a recession.

And even contribute to its treatment, with or without a periodontal approach. Depending on the type and severity of gingival tissue damage. However, there is no evidence on the fact that orthodontic treatment alone might induce a gingival recession.

Although it might lead the affected teeth (usually mandibular incisors or maxillary canines) to be involved in situations that act as predisposing factors. Allowing direct causes to act and, therefore, trigger recession. Especially when the buccal bone plate is very thin or presents with dehiscence. Learn more about How can orthodontic treatment help?

In most cases, periodontitis begins with plaque — a sticky film composed mainly of bacteria. If left untreated, here’s how plaque can eventually advance to periodontitis:

1. Plaque forms on your teeth:

When starches and sugars in food interact with bacteria normally found in your mouth.

Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day removes plaque, but plaque re-forms quickly.

2. Plaque can harden under your gum line:

In reality, plaque can harden under your gum line into tartar (calculus) if it stays on your teeth. Tartar is more difficult to remove and it’s filled with bacteria. The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more damage they can do.

You can’t get rid of tartar by brushing and flossing — you need professional dental cleaning to remove it.

3. Plaque can cause gingivitis:

In fact, plaque can cause gingivitis, which is the mildest form of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is irritation and inflammation of the part of your gum around the base of your teeth (gingiva).

However, gingivitis can be reversed with professional treatment and good home oral care.

4. Ongoing gum inflammation can cause periodontitis: 

Eventually, causing pockets to develop between your gums and teeth that fill with plaque, tartar, and bacteria. In time, these pockets become deeper, filling with more bacteria. If not treated, these deep infections cause a loss of tissue and bone. And ultimately, you may lose one or more teeth.

Also, ongoing chronic inflammation can put a strain on your immune system.

How should Healthy Gums be?

The gums, or gingivae, are composed of pink tissue in the mouth that meets the base of the teeth. There is one gum or gingival for each set of teeth. In reality, the gingival tissue is dense and has a good supply of blood vessels beneath a moist surface, otherwise known as a mucous membrane.

The gingival tissue connects with the rest of the mouth lining but is pink instead of shiny red. And the gums are firmly attached to the jawbone and tightly cover each tooth up to the neck. When intact, the gums cover the roots of the teeth and protect them.

Gingivitis Plaque and Calculus
The Main Difference Between Plaque and Calculus in Gingivitis through Illustration.

If you have healthy and strong gums, they will look firm and pink. Secondly, some signs of unhealthy gums include redness and swelling, gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth, and gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth.

Factors that can undermine healthy gums include;

  • tobacco use,
  • malnutrition,
  • poor oral hygiene, and
  • poor immunity (due to more severe medical problems).

Also, certain medications, including some types of antihistamines, decongestants, and painkillers, can cause dry mouth, which can promote gum disease. It’s important to remember that healthy gums aren’t just important for your oral health.

Which are the Early Signs & Symptoms?

Important to realize, the beginning signs of gingivitis disease are often seen when we perform dental cleanings. And we have found that many people haven’t been taking the signs seriously. Simply, because gingivitis doesn’t often cause pain, many people don’t know they have it.

In fact, as many as 75% of all Kenyans will experience some degree of gingivitis during their lifetime. Healthy gums are firm and pale pink and fit snuggly around teeth. That’s why it’s important not only to know what to look for but also to see your dentist and hygienist regularly for cleanings and checkups.

As your gums are the site of the infection, they are where you will likely first see the damage created by gingivitis.

Signs and symptoms of periodontitis can include:
  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bright red, dusky red or purplish gums
  • Generally, gums that feel tender when touched
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Also, gums that pull away from your teeth (recede), making your teeth look longer than normal
  • New spaces developing between your teeth
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

Read more about How do you Maintain your Healthy Gums?

How do you Prevent Periodontitis Disease?

If you don’t maintain healthy gums, you are more likely to have gum disease, which can progress to a number of problems with your teeth and oral health. And as we talked about above, other long-term, chronic health conditions can be associated with periodontitis, a serious form of gum disease.

In order to help keep your gums healthy, there are several easy steps you should take on a daily basis. The best way to prevent periodontitis is to follow a program of good oral hygiene, one that you begin early and practice consistently throughout life.

1. Hygiene 

That means brushing your teeth for two minutes at least twice daily — in the morning and before going to bed — and flossing at least once a day. Another option: interdental devices such as dental picks and flossers can be used to clean between the teeth and promote healthy gums.

2. Dental Floss

Flossing may be one of the most important things you can do to help prevent gum problems and maintain healthy gums. There are also types of soft floss that make flossing easier, so people with sensitive gums can have healthy gums.

Flossing before you brush allows you to clean away the loosened food particles and bacteria.

3. Toothbrush

When selecting a toothbrush for healthy gums, look for a soft-bristle brush that has bristles of varying heights to reduce irritation. This will help the toothbrush stimulate your gums and get into hard-to-reach areas.

4. Toothpaste

Comprehensive all-in-one formulas such as Crest Pro-Health Toothpaste can provide a number of benefits that help care for your teeth and gums for a healthy mouth. You may also want to consider a toothpaste like Crest Gum Detoxify Deep Clean which is formulated specifically for your gums.

It can reach and neutralize the plaque bacteria built up around the gum line that can cause bleeding gums and even gum disease.

5. Mouthwash

Using an anti-gingivitis mouthwash as part of your oral care routine can help kill the bacteria that cause plaque to maintain healthy gums and teeth. And mouthwashes may offer you additional benefits like whitening, enamel protection, or cavity protection.

6. Gum Stimulator

Available at most drug stores, a gum stimulator can help you keep clean and healthy gums. This simple device features a rubber tip that is used to gently clean and stimulate gums for good circulation and to help prevent gum disease.

7. Dental Visits 

See your dentist or dental hygienist regularly for cleanings, usually every six to 12 months.

If you have risk factors that increase your chance of developing periodontitis — such as having a dry mouth, taking certain medications or smoking — you may need professional cleaning more often.

8. Gums Vaccination

Scientists from The University of Melbourne have developed a world-first vaccine to treat gum disease. Their research, published in the journal NPJ Vaccines, has so far only tested the vaccine in mice.

If successful in human trials, the vaccine will be able to prevent chronic gum disease – or periodontitis – that is considered the main cause of tooth loss in people over 30 years old globally.

When do you See a Dentist?

At the start and throughout the disease process, there is commonly bleeding from the gums on brushing and flossing. Some patients report bleeding in eating and overnight. As the disease progresses teeth may become loose, there may be recurrent swelling of the gums, a bad taste and/or bad breath.

Gums can start receding from the tooth, leading to sensitivity to hot, cold and sweet things. In many cases, it is a visit to the dentist that identifies the problem. Therefore, follow your dentist’s recommended schedule for regular checkups.

If you notice any symptoms of periodontitis, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing damage from periodontitis.

Below are some of the risk contributing factors;

  • Gingivitis
  • Poor oral health habits
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Older age
  • Hormonal changes, such as those related to pregnancy or menopause
  • Substance abuse
  • Obesity
  • Inadequate nutrition, including vitamin C deficiency
  • Genetics
  • Certain medications that cause dry mouth or gum changes

Additionally, there are conditions that cause decreased immunity, such as leukemia, HIV/AIDS and cancer treatment. As well as certain diseases, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease

Summing Up,

The prevalence of periodontitis increases with age and around 53% of Australians aged 65 and over have moderate to severe levels.

For most people, the disease progresses slowly over a period of 20 to 30 years, before they start losing teeth. Notably, periodontitis is generally painless until the later stages and many do not know they have problems.

Periodontitis can also cause tooth loss. And some research suggests that the bacteria responsible for periodontitis can enter your bloodstream through the gum tissue. And, possibly affecting your heart, lungs and other parts of your body.

For example, periodontitis may be linked with respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease or stroke. But more studies are needed to confirm a link.

Resources;

I hope the above-revised guide will help you achieve your general oral care and hygiene best practices.

But, if you have additions, questions or contributions, please leave them in the comments box below. Or even Contact Us if you’ll personal queries that you’d like addressed by our health & fitness support team. Below are more useful and related blog topic links.

  1. What Causes Dry Mouth?
  2. 5 Steps to a Flawless Floss
  3. Obesity Signs & Symptoms
  4. How do Gums Become Unhealthy?
  5. How does Gingivitis Lead to Gum Disease
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