Periodontitis

Periodontitis

Periodontitis, also commonly known as parodontosis, is an inflammatory disease of the gums and bones supporting the teeth (periodontium) and is caused by bacterial plaque and tartar. It ranks as the second most common infectious disease worldwide and experts reckon that 2/3 of the world population are affected by at least mild forms of periodontitis.

The most problematic feature of the disease is the fact that there is no great pain or discomfort in the initial stages, gum bleeding being the only visible sign. This very first symptom should be taken as an immediate reason for a visit to your dentist. It is only when the disease has developed further that the patient notices symptoms such as loose teeth, receding gums and/or bad breath.

 

What is periodontitis and what causes it?

Periodontitis is an inflammation of the gums and bones surrounding the teeth caused by bacterial plaque.

Each tooth is encircled by a “gum pocket”, a small crevice between the tooth and the gums. Since this area and the interdental spaces are often neglected during the daily dental hygiene at home, there is an increase in plaque build-up. The soft dental plaque starts to undergo mineralisation through minerals contained in the saliva at puberty. This is how calculus or tartar – hardened dental plaque – forms. Tartar is an irritating foreign matter and leads first to a reversible gum inflammation. If it is not removed, the inflammation spreads to the surrounding periodontium and develops into periodontitis. This leads inevitably to the loss of the alveolar bone that supports the teeth. Such bone loss is permanent and in an advanced stage can lead to loosening and subsequent loss of apparently healthy teeth.

What are the warning signs of periodontitis?

  • Gum bleeding during brushing
  • General gum bleeding
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • New spaces developing between the teeth
  • Heavy plaque and tartar deposits
  • Bad breath
  • Gum swelling

What conditions increase the probability of periodontitis?

  • Increased plaque deposits as a result of insufficient care of the interdental spaces and gum pockets are the main factor in developing periodontitis
  • General bodily diseases and hereditary factors can facilitate the disease
  • Smoking increases the risk of developing periodontitis by 600%
  • A diet rich in sugary foods offers optimum breeding conditions for bacteria, thus increasing the risk of disease
  • Crowding and misalignment of teeth make care difficult and lead to increased plaque development
  • Badly fitting restorative dental work, overhanging crown or filling margins can all lead to gum irritation. One of the first signs is gum bleeding.

How can I prevent periodontitis?

Efficient home care and regular dental hygiene treatment at your dentist’s office are the best ways of preventing periodontitis.

Is periodontitis curable?

Yes, periodontitis is a curable disease. Treatment can stop all inflammatory processes and prevent the further progress of the disease. Regrettably, it is also a disease causing irreversible damage. Regular treatment and check-ups at short intervals can prevent the further development of the disease and the teeth can be stabilised in the alveolar bone. The bone loss is not reversible and only surgical measures can help restore it.

How is periodontitis treated?

The accent in periodontitis treatment is on the mechanical cleaning of the affected teeth. Like prophylactic treatment, periodontitis treatment involves cleaning and subsequent polishing of the teeth in order to remove the cause of disease, i.e. bacterial plaque and tartar. This is followed by very detailed homecare instructions, since the quality of this care is decisive in combating periodontitis. Short recall intervals for check-ups ensure the prevention of recurrence.
 
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