Periodontitis: What Is Gum Disease?

 Periodontitis, popularly known as gum disease, is an extremely common condition affecting 47% of U.S. adults, according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The risk of developing Periodontitis increases with age, and over 70% of those 65 years and older suffer from this condition.

Oral bacteria eventually forms plaque. This sticky substance adheres to the teeth and inflames and infects the tissues surrounding them. This leads to inflammation and gum disease. Plaque and tartar can accumulate under the gum line, making teeth more difficult to clean. At this point, only a dental professional can remove it to prevent the progression of the gum disease.

The following are some signs and symptoms of periodontal disease:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Swollen or red gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Changes in the bite
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Diabetes
  • Heredity and stress
  • Smoking
  • Crooked teeth
  • Compromised immune system
  • Dry mouth
  • Damaged dental restorations
  • Dental bridges that have stopped fitting properly

Broadly speaking, there are two basic types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis is a mild, early form of gum disease that is reversible. It is caused by a lack of proper oral hygiene. If you are diagnosed with gingivitis, your dentist will recommend that you improve your oral hygiene habits at home, such as brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily.

You will also receive a professional dental cleaning so that your dental hygienist can remove all accumulations of plaque and tartar from your teeth and under the gum line.

Left untreated, gingivitis eventually progress into a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis, which is not reversible. Even though periodontitis cannot be reversed, it can still be halted if you undergo regular deep cleanings to remove the accumulations of plaque and tartar from your teeth.

If you are suffering from severe gum disease, you may need to undergo treatments like scaling and cleaning to remove plaque found below the gum line. Your dental team can use devices like an ultrasonic device or hand tools to remove plaque and tartar. 

A root planing procedure helps with smoothing tooth roots. This makes it more difficult for oral bacteria to find safe harbor and cause further progression of gum disease.

Some dentists also recommend that patients with gum disease undergo a laser gum treatment for the removal of plaque to prevent further progression.

If you are concerned about developing Periodontitis, the best way to prevent it is to brush and floss at home regularly. You also need to keep up with your dental exam and cleaning appointments to remove any plaque that you may have missed at home. Contact us to schedule your next cleaning! New patients are welcome.