Periodontitis: Symptoms, Stages, and Treatment – Greatist
Gums and chompers not doing so hot? It could be periodontitis, aka gum disease or periodontal disease.
Periodontitis is a serious gum infection caused by excess bacteria buildup on your teeth and gums. This can damage your teeth or, worse, your jawbones.
But don’t stress just yet — periodontitis is totally treatable in its early stages. Before things get really bad, be extra diligent about oral hygiene. That means scheduling regular dental cleanings, brushing your teeth on the reg, and flossing like a champ.
Here are the deets on periodontitis and fighting dental enemy No. 1.
While you may think there’s no way periodontitis is the source of your dental probs, it’s actually super common. In the United States, about 42 percent of adults over 30 have some type of periodontitis (whether mild, moderate, or severe).
These warning signs could indicate periodontitis:
Both are types of gum disease, but periodontitis is way more severe.
Gingivitis is early inflammation of the gums, while periodontitis happens when gingivitis goes unchecked and leads to infection.
Here are the main differences:
Here’s what to know about each stage of the disease.
First comes gingivitis, then comes periodontitis. You’ll most likely notice:
In the early stage of periodontal disease, you might notice:
By this stage, you’ll likely experience more bleeding and pain in your teeth and recessed gums. You might also notice:
When your teeth’s precious connective tissue keeps deteriorating, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands (and in your mouth). Advanced periodontal disease spares nothing: Your gums, bones, and surrounding tissue all begin to erode.
You might also experience:
In addition to brushing and flossing on the daily, the CDC notes that seeing your dentist at least once a year is the best way to prevent or control periodontal disease.
If you can’t shell out for dental care RN, consider visiting the Health Resources and Services Administration, a dental school, or your state dental organization for reduced-cost or free care.
Periodontitis is usually caused by poor oral hygiene.
Like Weird Al Yankovic sang in ’99, “They’re all over me, they’re inside of me… I’m covered with… microscopic bacteria.” Including in your mouth!
Most of these bacteria are completely harmless. But if you don’t clean your teeth every day, the bacteria grow and multiply.
Here’s what happens, step by step:
Other factors that can increase your risk of periodontitis include:
Periodontitis is treatable when you tackle it as early as possible. Aside from A+ oral hygiene, here’s what it entails.
Getting a dental cleaning at least once a year is key to gum disease prevention. If you’ve already been diagnosed, you should head to the dental office at least twice a year.
When you schedule a dental cleaning, your dentist will:
They’ll also give you tips and tricks for limiting the “bad” bacteria in your mouth. For instance, they might ask you about your flossing habits or recommend using a water flosser.
In more severe cases, your doctor might prescribe antibiotics or treat you with other medications, including:
In its most advanced stages, periodontitis might require surgical intervention. Options include:
Good oral hygiene can go a long way in preventing, controlling, and reversing gum disease. Here’s what to do:
When it comes to brushing yo teeth, there *is* a right way, according to the ADA. Here’s how:
If you’ve noticed a little bleeding when brushing or other oral probs, head to a dentist for a complete assessment. During your visit, the dentist will examine the state of your gums, teeth, and surrounding bones to determine what’s up.
Your dentist will prob use a periodontal probe to examine your gums. If your teeth are healthy, the probe won’t be able to slide too far past the gumline. X-rays are usually needed to check underneath your gums and see how your bone is looking.
Remember, when it comes to periodontitis, prevention is the best medicine. Brush and floss those teeth, bb. Your smile will thank you!
Last medically reviewed on March 12, 2021