What Is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is one of the most prevalent oral health problems that the US Department of Health is experiencing today. Based on the July issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association in 2018, about 42% of American adults are living with one or more teeth having periodontitis. And about 7.8% of this population is diagnosed with severe periodontitis. 

Periodontitis is a serious condition where there is an infection and inflammation in the gum and the bone support that surrounds the teeth. If not treated right away, periodontitis can lead to teeth and bone damage. This condition starts with bleeding in the gums every time you brush or floss your teeth, also known as gingivitis. The bleeding is caused by the recession of the gums caused by bacteria in the plaque.  As periodontitis progresses, the tissues which hold your teeth in place may get affected and starts to deteriorate. Advanced periodontitis will make chewing food painful for you, along with bad breath and a rusty taste in your mouth.

Causes of Periodontitis

The number one cause of periodontitis is the bacteria in the mouth and poor oral hygiene. There are thousands of bacteria in the mouth brought by the different foods we eat. However, if we practice proper oral hygiene, the population of these bacteria will be controlled and our oral cavity will be in good shape to fight them. 

The inflammation in the gums is the body’s response in fighting the bacteria inside your mouth. Poor oral hygiene will make your mouth a conducive place to many bacteria; thus, their number will increase and causes plaque buildup on the teeth. 

Moreover, there are certain health conditions that increase your risk of developing periodontitis. Smoking and poor nutrition are two of the biggest risk factors for periodontitis. Other risks include Type II Diabetes, overweight, hormonal imbalance in women, low immune system, genetics, and certain illnesses such as cancer and HIV. 

Symptoms of Periodontitis

  1. Bleeding gums when brushing and flossing
  2. Severe bad breath
  3. Gum recession
  4. Gum inflammation
  5. Tartar and plaque buildup
  6. Loose teeth
  7. Rusty taste in the mouth
  8. Pain when chewing foods

If proper treatment and care is not given to a person with periodontitis, it could lead to a very painful abscess. The condition can also make eating uncomfortable as your teeth may get loose or your gums may start receding. Pregnant women with periodontitis are also at greater risk of complications such as low birth weight and preeclampsia. 

Diagnosis and Treatment

Early stages of periodontitis may show symptoms that are not noticeable enough. Regular visits to your dentists for a dental checkup is really crucial in order to diagnose the condition early. During your dental checkup, your dentist will evaluate the health of your gums and teeth using an instrument. Tartar and plaque will be removed 

Once you are diagnosed with periodontitis, you may be referred to a periodontist, who is an expert in periodontitis. Your periodontist will provide you with proper treatment and then regularly monitor your oral health to make sure your condition doesn’t get worse.