Everything You Need to Know About Periodontitis

Gum disease consists of two bottom-line facts. The first fact is that gum disease occurs primarily in adults. The second fact is that gum disease isn’t something you develop overnight. Gum disease creeps in slowly; so slowly that you may not even notice it until you develop something worse called periodontitis. Periodontitis is not gum disease, but it usually follows. A simple definition of periodontitis is a bacterial infection that causes the gums to pull away from your teeth, opening your mouth up to infection and decay. It can affect the jawbone beneath your teeth, as well, causing inflammation and decay. 

Once you get periodontitis, you must see your dentist. Only your dentist has the hygienic instruments that can remove the plaque and bacterial buildup that is causing your gum disease. 

Most people won’t immediately notice gum disease or periodontitis, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t notice the telltale signs of periodontitis. Now that you’ve noticed your gum disease, you probably have one big question: How do I get rid of this? After this question, a slew of other questions follow: How do I keep from losing teeth? What happens if I lose teeth? What if my periodontitis is really advanced? Is it contagious? All of these questions about periodontitis are perfectly normal to wonder about, and you can get good answers from two places: your dentist and this article. 

Is gum disease reversible?

The answer to this question depends on how far along you are with gum disease. If your gum disease is primarily characterized by gum bleeding symptoms, you are most likely still in the early stages. At this stage, you can easily eliminate your gum disease with careful brushing and flossing every day, along with essential hygienic directions from your dentist. However, if your gum disease is advanced, you might be experiencing symptoms that destroy the gums and bone around your teeth. These symptoms can infect the part of your jawbone that supports your teeth, causing them to become loose. An extreme symptom of gum disease is tooth loss. Once you reach this advanced point, your gum disease is likely irreversible and is probably now periodontitis. Fortunately, if you are already at this advanced point, your dentist can still give you options to help treat your periodontitis and preserve as much of your original smile as possible. 

How do I keep from losing teeth?

In this day and age, teeth can easily be replaced with dental implants. But in truth, if at all possible, we’d like to keep our original teeth. You certainly don’t want to lose your original teeth to periodontitis. So if you already have periodontitis, what can you do to fight it and keep your teeth? Immediately consult your dentist. Your dentist has the expertise to help you fight periodontitis and preserve your teeth. Usually, periodontitis starts with bad tooth care that leads to plaque buildup and finishes off with destroyed gums and a deteriorated jawbone. You need your dentist’s help to clean this severe decay and prescribe special medications for your periodontitis. By listening to any medical or cleaning directions your dentist prescribes, you can stop further damage to the gums and bone around your teeth. 

What happens if I’ve already lost teeth?

What if you’ve waited too long and have lost some teeth to periodontitis already? Is there no hope for retrieving your natural smile? Of course, there is. You can revamp your smile with dental implants. Though dental implants may not be your first choice, it is better than going without teeth (smiling and chewing will get difficult after a while). Dental implants are an easy fix for lost teeth and look like natural teeth. Not only are dental implants customized to fit your mouth, but they can also help treat your periodontitis symptoms. With the ability to connect to your natural bone, dental implants can stimulate your jawbone like your old teeth did, building up extra jawbone in places where you may have lost some. In short, even if you’ve lost teeth to periodontitis, your dentist can fit your mouth with dental implants that will replace your lost teeth. 

Is periodontitis contagious?

Periodontitis is caused by bacteria that collects in your teeth because your teeth aren’t being brushed regularly enough. This collected bacteria inflames your gums and leads to decay in your jawbone, teeth roots, and other parts of your mouth. This makes periodontitis a non-contagious disease since it is caused by a lack of hygienic care; however, this does not mean that periodontitis bacteria cannot be passed on. If you or a family member has periodontitis, the bacteria can still be passed on by eating with the same utensils or using the same dental hygiene tools. If you want to keep yourself or others away from periodontitis, you’ll want to avoid interactions that might cause periodontitis-infected saliva to be transmitted. 

What kind of treatments are there for my periodontitis?

Your dentist can provide multiple options for treating your periodontitis. Depending on how severe it is, your periodontitis will determine which treatment you need. Hopefully, you will meet with your dentist soon enough to catch periodontitis in its early stages. If you do, here is a simple non-surgical treatment that can help.

Teeth Scaling and Root Planing

For stubborn cases of periodontitis, your dentist may recommend teeth scaling. This procedure is basically a deep cleaning; it is like a typical cleaning procedure but more thorough. Your dentist or dental hygienist will carefully remove periodontitis-causing bacteria and plaque from your teeth and just below your gum line. Teeth scaling is finished off with root planing, which goes down to the roots of your teeth and addresses any infection you may have down there. Your dentist will carefully clean the roots’ surfaces of plaque and tartar, leaving your teeth and gums clear of any bacterial toxins. After your dentist completes these treatments, you should not have any further issues with your periodontitis, provided you implement a good oral hygiene routine. 

In addition to these treatments, you also have the option of flap or bone graft surgery if your periodontitis is very advanced. To get the ball rolling on fixing your periodontitis, all you need is a chat with your dentist, so you can find out which treatment is best suited to correct your periodontitis.