What is Periodontitis ?
- Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a common infection that damages the soft tissue and bone supporting the tooth. Without treatment, the alveolar bone around the teeth is slowly and progressively lost.
- The name “periodontitis” means “means inflammation around the tooth”. Microorganisms, such as bacteria, stick to the surface of the tooth and in the pockets surrounding the tooth, and they multiply. As the immune system reacts and toxins are released, inflammation occurs.
- Untreated periodontitis will eventually result in tooth loss. It may increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other health problems.
- Bacterial plaque, a sticky, colorless membrane that develops over the surface of teeth, is the most common cause of periodontal disease. If plaque it not removed, it can harden to form tartar, or calculus.
- Most cases of periodontitis are preventable through good dental hygiene.
Fast facts on periodontitis
- Periodontitis, or gum disease, affects the area around the tooth, including the bone and the gum.
- It happens when bacteria and plaque build up around the tooth, and the immune system launches a reaction.
- Good oral hygiene is part of both treatment and prevention, but sometimes surgery is necessary too.
- Smoking increases the risk of gum disease and of treatment not working.
- There appears to be a link between gum disease and conditions elsewhere in the body, such as heart disease.
The main aim of treatment is to clean out bacteria from the pockets around the teeth and prevent further destruction of bone and tissue.
Good oral hygiene
- Regular brushing with a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste can help prevent gum disease.
- Good oral hygiene should be followed daily, even if the teeth and gums are healthy, to prevent infection.
- Proper dental care involves brushing teeth at least twice a day and flossing once a day. If there is enough space between the teeth, an interdental brush is recommended.
- Soft-picks can be used when the space between the teeth is smaller. Patients with arthritis and others with dexterity problems may find that using an electric toothbrush is better for a thorough cleaning.
Periodontitis is a chronic, or long-term, inflammatory disease. If good oral hygiene is not maintained, it will recur.
Scaling and cleaning
It is important to remove plaque and calculus to restore periodontal health.
A healthcare professional will carry out scaling and debridement to clean below the gumline. This may be done using hand tools or an ultrasonic device that breaks up the plaque and calculus. Root planing is done to smoothen rough areas on the roots of the teeth. Bacteria can lodge within the rough patches, increasing the risk of gum disease.
Depending on how much plaque and calculus there is, this may take one or two visits.
Cleaning is normally recommended twice a year, and possibly more often, depending on how much plaque accumulates.
Your doctor may prescribe you a medicated mouthwashes, gels or antibiotics in conjunction with a periodontal disease treatment.