Build the knowledge to care for your oral health at home.
When you establish a regular oral hygiene routine, it’s easier to keep your mouth healthy. Just like a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you won’t ever experience health issues, though,an at-home dental routine is just the first step to oral health. Many oral health issues can go completely unnoticed until they’re severe, so it’s wise to visit your dentist in Marietta, GA, every six months for a checkup and to educate yourself on the symptoms of cavities and gum disease that you might notice at home.
Despite the fact that periodontitis is a major oral health issue that can wreak lasting damage on your oral health, the disease is particularly misunderstood. Learning about periodontitis can help you maintain better oral health over the short and long term, keeping your entire body healthier as a result. Here are 5 facts about periodontitis you probably didn’t know.
1. Periodontitis is different from gingivitis.
Although periodontitis and gingivitis are both types of gum disease, they’re very different illnesses. Gingivitis is a milder form of gum disease where bacteria irritates your gums, causing them to become slightly inflamed and to bleed easily. In most cases, it’s easy to treat this at home once your dentist identifies the problem. Periodontitis, however, is a much more severe type of gum disease where bacteria get underneath your gum line. Once there, they begin attacking your gums, tooth roots, and the other supporting structures of your teeth.
If it isn’t treated, it can lead to permanent gum recession and tooth loss—this isn’t an uncommon occurrence, either, as periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in America. Untreated periodontitis can negatively impact your overall health, increasing your chances of suffering from a stroke, heart disease, or respiratory illnesses, and making it harder for diabetic patients to control their blood sugar. While both gingivitis and periodontitis need to be taken seriously, especially since gingivitis can develop into periodontitis if it isn’t treated, periodontitis requires immediate treatment from Dr. Wohlers.
2. Poor oral hygiene isn’t the only cause of periodontitis.
While poor oral hygiene is a common and well-known cause of periodontitis, there are a number of other risk factors that can cause periodontitis, even if you have good oral hygiene. Lifestyle choices like your diet, smoking, or any other form of tobacco use will increase your chances of getting periodontitis, but factors you can’t control, such as genetics, prescription medications, and certain diseases like autoimmune diseases and diabetes, can also increase your risk. Additionally, since periodontitis is caused by bacteria, it’s actually contagious—if a member of your family has periodontitis without realizing it, they can spread that bacteria to you, increasing your chances of getting it even if you take great care of your oral health.
3. Periodontitis has a wide range of symptoms, but you might not notice any of them.
One of the characteristics of periodontitis that makes it so dangerous for your oral health is that it’s often completely painless until it’s severe, and although it has a wide range of serious symptoms, many of them go unnoticed or don’t appear until the disease is advanced. This allows periodontitis to slip under your radar, quietly becoming steadily worse before you even realize there’s a problem. This is one of many reasons that it’s so important for you to visit Dr. Wohlers every six months for a checkup, as she’ll be able to spot the signs early and treat your gum disease before it causes permanent damage to your teeth or gums. If you know what you’re looking for, however, you may still be able to spot a few warning signs—some more advanced than others. Here are symptoms you may notice if you have periodontitis:
- Bleeding gums when you floss or brush your teeth.
- Swollen, tender, or irritated gums.
- Persistent bad breath.
- Changes in the color of your gums, often to a deep red, bright red, or purplish color.
- Receding gums.
- Gaps forming between teeth.
- Formation of deep pockets between your teeth and gums.
- Pus between teeth and gums.
- Change in the way your bite fits together.
- Loose teeth.
- Painful chewing.
- Loss of teeth.
A few of these more minor symptoms, such as irritated or bleeding gums, overlap with the symptoms of gingivitis. If you have gingivitis, however, any bleeding should be minor and should resolve itself within a week or so if you start flossing daily. If the bleeding is severe, doesn’t go away after you’ve started flossing regularly, or if you notice any of these other symptoms, you should call our office right away to schedule an appointment with Dr. Wohlers.
4. Periodontal therapy can resolve your periodontitis.
Periodontal therapy is an umbrella term for any treatment that’s used to resolve periodontitis. These treatments can be nonsurgical or surgical, though which method Dr. Wohlers will recommend for you will depend upon the severity of your periodontitis. Nonsurgical treatments include scaling and root planing, which are two treatments that are often used together. During scaling, Dr. Wohlers removes bacteria from the roots of your teeth, while root planing involves smoothing the surface of the root itself so that there are fewer footholds for bacteria to grow into in the future—this will help prevent you from getting periodontitis again, though it isn’t a replacement for good oral hygiene habits.
If you have an advanced case of periodontitis, you may need a surgical treatment like flap surgery, where Dr. Wohlers makes small incisions in your gums so that she can clean the roots of your teeth more directly. You may also need bone or soft tissue grafts to restore bone loss and reduced gum lines caused by periodontitis. Whether you receive nonsurgical or surgical periodontal therapy, Dr. Wohlers may also prescribe an antibiotic to protect you against infection.
5. You can take simple steps to prevent periodontitis at home.
While periodontitis can permanently damage your oral health, there’s good news: it’s easy to prevent. Generally, preventing periodontitis is as simple as ensuring that you floss at least once a day along with your usual oral hygiene routine. If you know that you have one or more risk factors that increase your likelihood of getting periodontitis, you can take a few extra steps to protect your gum health, such as flossing more often or adding a specialized mouthwash that’s designed to help protect against gum disease.
It’s also essential for you to schedule regular appointments with Dr. Wohlers every six months, as these appointments enable her to help prevent periodontitis by removing the buildup of plaque and hardened tartar on your teeth. It also gives her the chance to spot gum disease early—before it causes irreversible damage to your oral health. These extra steps involve a lot less time than you generally need to dedicate to exercising every day or week, but they have a huge impact on your oral and overall health.
Ensuring your teeth and gums stay healthy will save you the pain and expense that often comes with major oral health issues, and it will also help you keep your entire body healthier for longer—making it worth spending a few extra minutes on your oral hygiene every night! If you’re concerned about potential periodontitis symptoms or need to schedule a routine dental appointment, feel free to call our Marietta, GA, office at any time!