If you are one of the many people who suffer from periodontitis, you know how painful and frustrating it can be. Periodontitis is a severe gum infection that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. This is a comprehensive guide on how to treat periodontitis. We will cover everything from diagnosis to treatment options.
What is Periodontitis?
Microorganisms, such as bacteria, attach to the tooth’s surface and multiply in the pockets surrounding the tooth, which is why the term “periodontitis” means “inflammation around the teeth.” Inflammation occurs as the immune system reacts and poisons are produced.
Periodontitis, if left untreated, will eventually lead to tooth loss. It has been linked to an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and other health issues.
The most prevalent cause of the periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, a sticky, white membrane that forms on the surface of teeth. Plaque can harden into tartar, or calculus, if not removed.
Symptoms of Periodontitis
Common symptoms of periodontitis are the following:
- persistent or on and off gum inflammation
- bright reddish or purplish gums
- gum sensitivity or pain to touch
- gum recession, which makes the teeth look longer
- extra spaces appearing between the teeth
- pus formation between the teeth and gums
- bleeding when brushing teeth or flossing
- a metallic taste in the mouth
- bad breath
- loose teeth
Periodontitis or Gingivitis: Which is gum disease?
Many people are confused and use gingivitis and periodontitis interchangeably. Gingivitis is the first one to occur. This condition is the literal translation of gum inflammation. In truth, gingivitis can happen with an infection just beginning to form as plaque and tartar cause gum inflammation.
Periodontitis, on the other hand, happens when gingivitis gets untreated. Large pockets arise when the gum and bone pull away from the teeth. Debris accumulates in the gaps between the gums and teeth, causing infection.
As plaque creeps below the gum line and into the pockets, the immune system assaults microorganisms. Because of the toxins created by the bacteria, the bone and connective tissue that retain the tooth begin to break down. Teeth loosen and eventually fall out. The changes could be severe and irreversible.
Who is at risk of having Periodontal Disease?
Suppose a person’s immune system is weakened, and there are significant amounts of aggressive bacteria. In that case, it’s more challenging to make your teeth healthy, so gum disease is more likely to develop seriously.
Periodontitis is associated with the risk factors listed below:
Smoking. Regular smokers are more prone to experience gum disease. Smoking also reduces the effectiveness of treatment. Smokers account for 90% of cases that do not respond to treatment.
Hormones. Female hormonal changes include puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. Gum disease is more likely to occur due to these imbalances and shifts.
Diabetes. People with diabetes have a higher rate of gum disease than people of the same age.
AIDS. Gum disease is more likely among AIDS patients.
Cancer. Gum disease can be exacerbated by cancer and some cancer treatments.
Medications. Antihypertensive pharmaceuticals or vasodilating agents—drugs that relax and dilate blood vessels—immunotherapy drugs, and medicines that inhibit saliva production can raise the risk of gum disease.
Genes. Genetic factors make certain persons more susceptible to gum disease.
Gum Disease Treatment
The main aim of treating gum disease is to clean out bacteria from the pockets around the teeth and prevent further destruction of bone and tissue.
Good oral hygiene
Even if the teeth and gums are healthy, one should still practise everyday dental hygiene to avoid infection. Brushing teeth twice a day and flossing daily are part of good dental hygiene.
An interdental brush is indicated if there is ample space between the teeth. Soft picks can be employed when the gap between the teeth is small. Patients with arthritis and other dexterity issues may find that brushing their teeth with an electric toothbrush is more thorough. Periodontitis is an inflammatory condition that lasts a long time. It will return if proper dental hygiene is not maintained.
Scaling and root planing
Plaque and calculus must be removed through deep cleaning to restore periodontal health. A dentist will perform scaling and debridement to clean underneath the gumline.
This can be accomplished using manual tools or by utilizing a piece of ultrasonic equipment to break up the plaque and calculus. Root planing is a procedure that smooths rough regions on the teeth’s roots. Bacteria can become trapped in the rough spots, raising the risk of gum disease.
Depending on the plaque and calculus present, this could take one or two visits. Cleaning should be done at least twice a year, and maybe more, depending on how plaque has built up.
Several medicated types of mouthwash and other treatments are available. You can try antimicrobial mouth rinses that have chlorhexidine. This is used to control bacteria when treating gum disease and after surgery. Patients use it as they would a regular mouthwash.
Some patients are prescribed gel-form doxycycline, an antibiotic medication that helps control bacteria and shrink periodontal pockets. It is placed in the spaces after scaling and root planing. It is a slow-release medication.
Others are also prescribed oral antibiotics available in capsule or tablet forms. They are used short-term to treat an acute or locally persistent periodontal infection.
If less invasive and nonsurgical approaches are not effective, your dentist may opt to recommend the following surgical treatments:
Flap surgery: The healthcare professional performs flap surgery to remove calculus in deep pockets or reduce the space to keep it clean easier. The gums are lifted back, and the tarter is removed. The gums are then sutured back into place to fit closely to the tooth. After surgery, the gums will heal and fit tightly around the tooth. In some cases, the teeth may appear longer than before.
Bone and tissue grafts: This procedure helps regenerate bone or gum tissue that has been destroyed. New natural or synthetic bone is placed where the bone was lost, promoting bone growth.
Guided tissue regeneration (GTR) is a surgical procedure that uses barrier membranes to direct the growth of new bone and gum tissue at sites where one or both of these are lacking. It aims to regenerate tissue and repair defects that have resulted from periodontitis.
A small piece of mesh-like material is inserted between the gum tissue and bone in this procedure. This stops the gum from growing into bone space, giving the bone and connective tissue a chance to regrow. The dentist may also use special proteins, or growth factors, that help the body regrow bone naturally.
The dental professional may suggest a soft tissue graft. This involves taking tissue from another part of the mouth or using synthetic material to cover exposed tooth roots.
Success depends on how advanced the disease is, how well the patient adheres to a good oral hygiene program, and other factors, such as smoking status.
Do Home Remedies Work?
If you already have periodontitis, it is more likely that going to your dentist is the best way for your infection to get treated. Home remedies, like maintaining good oral hygiene, can only prevent the presence of gum disease. Brushing twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste, using dental floss once a day, and using interdental brushes can help stop the effects of periodontal disease. However, treating it is the job of a dentist.
Do I need an emergency dentist?
Seeing your dentist ASAP is critical for a sudden surge of pain and discomfort from gum disease and bleeding. If left untreated, you may lose your teeth and develop respiratory or cardiovascular disease if the bacteria reach your bloodstream.
Professional dental treatment is necessary to stop the infection from furthering and preserve your dental health. Our emergency dentist in Perth can provide urgent dental care for this situation. With our qualified and experienced team, we will quickly determine the cause and seriousness of your condition to give you the treatment you need. So, if you have severe dental pain or infection, contact us immediately at (08) 9783 9006, so we can take care of your dental necessities as soon as possible.