February 3, 2010

The Dangers of Periodontitis

Periodontitis is the term for gum disease. It refers to an infection of the gums and nearby tissue. Along with gingivitis, periodontitis is classed as a periodontal disease. Periodontitis is the more advanced form.

Periodontal diseases are the main cause of most tooth loss. They are thus not to be taken lightly. Yet periodontal diseases rarely cause pain. They are thus more likely to be ignored and left untreated than other, more painful dental conditions.

How Periodontal Diseases Attack

The tissue between the gums and teeth is known as the sulcus. It is between 0 and 3 mm thick and connects the gum to the tooth. This is where periodontal diseases strike.

The main cause of periodontitis is plaque, a film of bacteria that coats the teeth. Plaque emits acids that break down the tooth enamel and attack the sulcus. This creates pockets where the sulcus should hold the teeth and gums together.

As these pockets fill with bacteria and pus, they begin to reach down the root of the tooth. In time, this weakens the tooth’s foundation so that it falls out or must be pulled.

Periodontitis Prevention

Since plaque is the main cause of periodontitis, dental hygiene is the best defense. The first and most basic rule of oral hygiene is to brush the teeth twice a day. This cleans plaque out of the mouth and limits bacteria build-up that, if left unchecked, leads to periodontitis.

Toothpaste and mouthwash with fluoride can help prevent plaque build-up and make teeth stronger. Floss can clean plaque and bits of food out of the areas between the teeth that are hard to reach with a brush.

Last but not least, regular visits to the dentist are a vital part of dental hygiene, especially with respect to periodontal diseases. This is because a patient with periodontitis may not have any warning signs or pain. Thus, they may not know their teeth are at risk until a dentist examines them.

Periodontitis Warning Signs

While periodontitis can take hold without being felt, there are still some warning signs that are easy to note. Bleeding or inflamed gums, recurring bad breath, and noticeable changes in the way the teeth come together when chewing may all be signs of periodontal disease.

If you note these or similar conditions, see a dentist to find out if periodontitis is the cause.