Periodontitis: Causes and Treatment
When was the last time you visited a dental clinic? How long has it been since your last dental exam? If you consider oral problems (such as gum bleeding, toothaches or sensitive teeth, etc.) a normal part of life, you should give it another thought.
According to a recent study, half of Americans over 30 suffer gum problems. Without timely diagnosis and treatment, the conditions will progress and resulting in a much more serious disease - periodontitis, also known as periodontal disease.
What is periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a disease of the roots of the teeth and supporting structures around the teeth. Early signs include gum bleeding, swelling, and occasionally, toothaches. During this stage, the disease progresses in silence while bacteria spread to surrounding areas, damaging the supporting structures inside the jaw bone.
Eventually, the teeth get severely loose and have to be extracted.
Causes of periodontitis
- Bacteria in the plaque: The main cause of periodontitis. If you don’t practice good oral hygiene, plaque and tartar will build-up, resulting in the growth of harmful bacteria inside your mouth. Over time, tartar will cause gum infection, resulting in gum swelling, bleeding, and eventually periodontitis.
- Crooked teeth: increase the possibility of plaque and tartar. The more tartar you have, the higher the risk of periodontitis you suffer.
- Cavities: The most effective treatment option for cavities is removing the affected tissue to prevent bacteria from spreading, then fill up the cavities.
- Smoking: may increase your risk of periodontitis or worsen existing periodontitis.
- Chronic teeth grinding doesn’t directly cause periodontitis, if you already have periodontitis, it will make the condition worse.
- Certain medications such as antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, among others may cause dry mouth. Reduced production of saliva may encourage the formation of plaque, which will eventually result in cavities and periodontitis.
- Hormonal changes: This is the reason why pubertal children and pregnant women are more likely to develop gum diseases as those periods are when the hormones are most unbalanced.
- In addition, malnutrition, vitamin C deficiency, hormonal changes, or blood disorders may cause periodontitis as well.
Complications of periodontitis
Periodontitis isn’t just about your mouth. Without proper management, periodontitis may worsen certain conditions:
- Atherosclerosis and heart disease: Periodontitis may increase the risk of clogged arteries and make heart disease worse.
- Stroke: Periodontitis may make it more likely for you to suffer a stroke due to blocked arteries.
- Preterm delivery: A pregnant woman with periodontitis is prone to preterm labor and delivery. Besides, babies born to mothers with periodontitis often suffer low birth weight.
- Diabetes: Diabetic patients with periodontitis have more difficulties controlling their blood sugar compared to diabetic patients with good gum health.
- Respiratory diseases: Bacteria responsible for periodontitis may cause lung infection or worsen an existing lung condition. Bacteria in the mouth may spread down to the lungs, resulting in severe lung infection. This is especially true in elderly people.
Read more: Things to Know about Tooth Abscess
How to prevent periodontitis?
- Practice good oral hygiene by flossing daily, brush your teeth after every meal (remember to wait 30 minutes) in vertical or circular motions.
- Visit your dentist regularly (once every 6 months). If you already have gum disease, you should have dental exams more often.
- Get tartar removal periodically to prevent bacteria from growing and causing inflammation. It’s best to get tartar removal every 3 to 6 months.
- Don’t use teeth brighteners or any medication for gum swelling without consulting with your dentist first.
- Quit smoking and limit your consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- Reduce stress as it may worsen periodontitis and make treatment more challenging. This is because stress takes a toll on the immune system, making the body prone to infections, including periodontitis.
- Have a healthy diet. Stock up vitamins C, K, and calcium to help your teeth and gums stay healthy.