You’ve probably seen the intimidating photos and diagrams on your dentist’s walls detailing the horrors of gum disease. Periodontitis is the most severe form of it. It all starts with gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums. If you don’t treat it, it grows into this full-blown version of infected gums.
Most of the time, it’s a result of not taking good care of your oral hygiene, though women are a bit more prone due to hormonal changes each month, during pregnancy, and when they hit menopause. Additionally, certain diseases like diabetes and autoimmune disorders can lead to gum troubles.
Periodontitis isn’t as easy to get rid of as gingivitis. Ideally, you’ll want to avoid it all together. But how do you know if you have it?
Symptoms Of Periodontitis To Watch For
Even if you regularly brush and floss as advised, you could be prone to periodontitis from hormones, medications, or lack of saliva to keep the kind of bacteria that causes it away. When your gums are healthy, they are firm and light pink in color. Some signs to watch out for are:
- Your gums become puffy or swollen
- The color of your gums is red or purplish
- Your gums feel tender to the touch
- Your mouth bleeds with ease, like when you brush
- You have new spaces forming between your teeth
- Persistent bad breath even after brushing
- Pain when chewing
How To Treat Periodontitis
Unfortunately, you can’t do anything on your own to get rid of periodontitis. You’ll need to work with your dentist to clear it up. Generally speaking, if you go to your dental appointments and keep up with your dental hygiene, you will avoid periodontitis, but as mentioned with hormones and medications, you may still get it.
Your dentist will likely recommend you use an antibacterial rinse after brushing or choose a better toothbrush to help get rid of plaque. This may be all that’s needed, along with a few extra dental appointments, to resolve your problems with periodontitis. But if not, you will likely need to schedule a deep cleaning procedure known as scaling and root planing. With today’s technology, it is much less painful than it once was, though they may numb your gums to make it more comfortable for you.
In this procedure, the hygienist removes the tartar from above and below your gum line and smooths rough spots on the roots of your teeth where the bacteria that causes plaque hangs out. In the most extreme of cases, you may need oral surgery to tighten up the gums after those pockets that have formed are cleared out.
Still, that’s far better than losing your teeth, which is what will happen if you leave periodontitis untreated. Going to the dentist now and getting the treatment you need will save your smile and bring you relief so don’t put it off any longer!
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Jennifer Raskin is a freelance writer, wife and mom that loves cold weather despite her location in Florida, cooking, reading, watching ‘80s movies, weight-lifting, and wine tasting.