What is periodontitis? Periodontitis is also known as periodontal disease or an advanced stage of gum disease. The meaning of the name describes the condition: perio = around; dont = tooth; itis = inflammation of. So periodontitis is the inflammation and infection of the area surrounding the root of the tooth. It is a severe condition that simply begins as gingivitis but ultimately leads to the destruction of gum attachment, bone and results in tooth loss if left untreated.
What causes periodontitis? Periodontitis is a natural immune response to bacteria along and underneath the gum lines around the teeth. When plaque biofilm is not removed effectively, antibodies from the immune system seek the bacteria out in order to destroy it. When initial symptoms of gingivitis are left untreated, the condition worsens into periodontitis. Simple swelling becomes an area of more advanced infection, causing the destruction of gum and bone attachment around the teeth.
Periodontitis may be due to:
- Inadequate oral hygiene
- Lack of professional preventive care (routine cleanings)
- Susceptibility from conditions such as a family history of periodontitis, uncontrolled systemic health conditions or badly misaligned teeth.
Signs And Symptoms
Periodontitis is more than just gingivitis. Here are some warning signs to watch for if you suspect you may be developing the condition:
Bleeding Gums Healthy gums should never bleed. Bleeding during brushing or flossing that persists for more than two weeks is a sign of gum infection such as periodontitis or more advanced gingivitis.
Bad Breath The bacteria involved in periodontitis often contribute to halitosis, or breath malodor. Because the problem exists deep under the gums, mouth rinses, gums or mints do not easily cover it up.
Swollen, Red Gums Gum lines become inflamed and red along the margins of the teeth when gum disease exists. Mild inflammation is typical of gingivitis, while more diffuse not concentrated or localized. Inflammation and redness (or even purple colored gums) is a sign of more advanced periodontitis.
Receded Gums As periodontitis advances, the gums become detached from the teeth and creep down the surface of the roots, leaving exposed root surfaces. This makes teeth appear longer than normal.
Sore Teeth Infection around the tooth may make chewing or applying pressure to the tooth uncomfortable.
Shifting Or Loose Teeth When gum detachment or bone loss has occurred, it may cause the teeth to be mobile or shift out of their natural position.
Drainage Of Pus During very advanced stages of periodontitis, there may be signs of pus that drains along the gum lines when the tooth or gums is depressed. Pus usually appears clear, white or yellow.
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