Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a condition in which the gum tissue becomes inflamed and irritated. This can lead to bleeding gums, receding gums, and eventually tooth loss. While periodontal disease is a serious condition, it is also very treatable. Here’s everything you need to know about periodontal disease, including what causes it and how to treat it.
What Causes Periodontal Disease?
There are a number of things that can cause periodontal disease, including poor oral hygiene, smoking, certain medications, and genetic susceptibility. Plaque is the main culprit when it comes to gum disease. Plaque is a sticky film of bacterial growth that forms on teeth. If plaque buildup isn’t removed through regular brushing and flossing, it can harden into tartar. Tartar is much harder to remove than plaque and can only be removed by a professional dentist. Once tartar has formed, it will irritate the gums and cause them to become inflamed. This inflammation of the gums is called gingivitis and is the early stage of periodontal disease progression.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it will progress into periodontitis. In the more advanced stages of periodontal disease, the gums recede from the teeth and form pockets. These pockets collect bacteria and can become infected. The infection will begin to break down the support of the bone and connective tissue around the teeth leading to tooth loss. Advanced periodontitis can cause bone loss in the jaw and lead to tooth loss.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease
In the Gingivitis Stage
The good news is that periodontal disease is highly treatable. In its early stages, gingivitis can be reversed with good oral hygiene habits at home. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, flossing daily, using an antibacterial mouthwash, and visiting your dentist regularly for professional cleanings.
In the Periodontitis Stage
If your periodontal disease has progressed to periodontitis, you may need more aggressive treatment options from your dentist. This may include scaling and root planing (a deep cleaning), antibiotics, or surgery. With proper treatment, you can reverse the damage caused by periodontitis and prevent further damage from occurring.
If the disease progression has led to bone loss in the jaw, it may require surgical treatment in order to address the underlying cause of the condition. Surgeries for periodontal disease typically involve procedures to regenerate lost bone and tissue, such as bone grafting or guided tissue regeneration.
Periodontal disease is a serious condition that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. However, it is also very treatable in its early stages with good oral hygiene habits at home or with more aggressive treatment from a dentist if necessary. If you think you may have periodontal disease or are experiencing any of its symptoms (bleeding gums, red or swollen gums), be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist right away for a dental health evaluation so that you can begin treatment as soon as possible!