Periodontitis Summit, NJ
Periodontitis is a surprisingly common problem affecting the health of many adults. Also known as gum disease, it can affect not only the mouth but also the health of the rest of the body. For this reason, it is important to know the signs and risk factors so people can take steps to prevent it and know when to seek treatment.
If you think you are experiencing symptoms of periodontal disease, we can help. Treatment for periodontitis is available at Summit Periodontics & Dental Implants in Summit and the surrounding area. The more you know, the better you will be able to keep periodontitis at bay. Call our office at (908) 219-6664 for more information or to schedule an appointment.
What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is the infection and inflammation of the gum, ligaments, and bone supporting the teeth and holding them in place. It is also known as periodontal disease, which literally means disease "around the tooth " and is commonly referred to as gum disease. It starts as a condition known as gingivitis, which has milder symptoms and is reversible. However, it can only be managed and not completely reversed once it progresses to the periodontitis stage.
Nearly half of all adults in the U.S. over 30 have some form of periodontitis, and this number increases to 70% for adults 65 and over. Along with tooth decay, this common infection is one of the biggest threats to oral health. Without treatment, it can lead to tooth and bone loss. Periodontitis gets progressively worse in three stages:
- Early Periodontal Disease. This is when gums start to pull away from the teeth, and small pockets form between gums and teeth that collect harmful bacteria. The gums recede as the immune system attempts to fight the disease. Patients may experience bleeding during brushing and some bone loss.
- Moderate Periodontal Disease. Patients experience bleeding and pain around the teeth as well as gum recession. The teeth begin to lose bone support and can feel loose.
- Advanced Periodontal Disease. The connective tissue holding teeth in place deteriorates at this stage. Patients will experience pain, bad breath, and a foul taste in the mouth at this stage. Tooth loss is also likely.
Not only is periodontitis a threat to oral health, but it can also have a negative impact on the rest of the body. The infection triggers an inflammatory response in the whole body. Gum disease can also be related to heart disease, diabetes, dementia, and a number of other health conditions.
“Nearly half of all adults in the U.S. over 30 have some form of periodontitis, and this number increases to 70% for adults 65 and over.”
Common Causes of Periodontitis
Poor oral hygiene and a lack of regular dental care are leading culprits behind the development of periodontitis. Starches and sugars in food interact with bacteria in the mouth to form plaque. Thankfully, it is easy to remove plaque by brushing. However, plaque can reform fast. A lack of brushing makes it easier for plaque to stay on the tooth and build up and form tartar under the gumline.
Only a professional dental cleaning can remove tartar. Also known as calculus, tartar is hard and full of bacteria, causing more damage the longer it stays on teeth. In the absence of regular brushing and regular dental cleaning, tartar stays on teeth, builds up, and leads to the progressively worsening destruction of the tissue and bone supporting the teeth.
“Plaque can be easily removed by brushing, but it can reform fast.”
Symptoms of Periodontitis
The symptoms of gum disease can start mildly. Patients may not even notice some symptoms until their dentist points them out. Common symptoms of gum disease include but are not limited to:
- Bad breath or taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Pain while chewing
- Receding gums that make teeth appear longer
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender or bleeding gums
- Tooth sensitivity
The more symptoms a person notices, the more likely the disease has progressed and the more urgent the need for intervention.
“These symptoms may be so mild that patients do not notice them until their dentist points them out.”
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Risk Factors for Periodontitis
Many factors influence a person's risk for developing periodontitis, and, unfortunately, not all are within a person's control. Factors that increase a person's risk of gum disease include:
- Age. A person’s chance of developing periodontitis increases as they get older.
- Disease. AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and other diseases that compromise the immune system put one at higher risk for periodontitis.
- Genetics. Through no fault of their own, some people have genes that contribute to their gum disease.
- Gender. Hormonal changes in women make them more vulnerable to gum disease. However, men develop it at higher rates than women. One theory behind this is that men are more likely than women to skip dental care.
- Medication Certain drugs lower saliva production. Saliva helps protect the gums. Medicines to be concerned about include antihistamines, antidepressants, and drugs for high blood pressure.
- Smoking. This impedes the body’s ability to fight off infection.
Many of these factors, especially smoking, can also worsen the disease. In addition, periodontitis appears to disproportionately affect those in lower-income brackets and those that abuse alcohol and drugs.
“Many factors influence a person’s risk for developing periodontitis and, unfortunately, not all are within a person’s control.”
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The good news is that even if a person develops periodontitis, they can still maintain excellent oral health and keep the disease at bay with the right form of treatment and more frequent cleanings. One of the first lines of defense against earlier forms of the disease is a deep cleaning procedure known as scaling and root planing. This process involves the periodontist cleaning debris and tartar from below the gum line and smoothing rough areas of tooth roots. Fortunately, there is only some minor discomfort associated with these deep cleanings, and patients can return to their regular activities with no downtime. Medications such as antimicrobial mouth rinse or gel are often prescribed to keep the bacteria from spreading.
More advanced stages of the disease may call for surgical intervention. Flap surgery, also known as pocket reduction surgery, is a procedure aimed at reducing the size of the pockets around teeth. By reducing the size of these pockets, there is less chance for plaque to become stuck.
If the disease has caused gum recession or bone loss, the periodontist can employ gum grafting and bone grafting techniques to help restore these supportive tissues. Recovery from these procedures is usually more involved. A gum graft typically heals in two weeks. The patient should avoid brushing for a few days and use mouthwash to control plaque instead. Patients will need to stick to cool, soft foods until the gum heals, but they should be able to return to work in a day. If a bone graft is required, the patient can return to regular activities in a week or two. However, complete healing can take months. The periodontist will discuss what each patient can expect, given their circumstances.
To prevent future tooth loss, the patient may need to make dental checkups every three months instead of six. A strict oral hygiene routine is necessary between visits, involving flossing daily and brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush that one replaces every three to four months. Tools such as interdental brushes and a water flosser can help patients clean more thoroughly in hard-to-reach areas or around dental work such as bridges and crowns. Practitioners also recommend fluoride toothpaste and an ADA-approved mouthwash.
“Medications such as antimicrobial mouth rinse or gel are often prescribed to keep the bacteria from spreading.”
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?
A. The main difference is that gingivitis is completely reversible and periodontitis is not. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum line, but there is not yet a risk of losing the structures that hold teeth in place. It can often be reversed with more stringent oral hygiene and more frequent dental cleanings.
Q. How can periodontitis affect the rest of the body?
A. Periodontitis can cause bacteria to spread to other parts of the body and tax your immune system. Gum disease is linked to worsening symptoms of diabetes, pregnancy complications, heart disease, and increased risk of stroke. There is even a link between the disease and Alzheimer's and dementia.
Q. What do I do if I have periodontitis?
A. Though it cannot be completely reversed, you can still maintain excellent oral health. You will need to be on point with your oral health routine, following professional recommendations closely. You will also want to stick to more frequent and regular dental visits so any problem can be detected early and treated. Taking these steps will help you avoid tooth loss.
Q. What dietary changes can I make to help prevent or slow periodontitis?
A. What you eat does make a difference in the development and progression of gum disease. Foods to avoid include high starch or sugary foods such as candy, sugary drinks, acidic foods, and sports drinks. Look for foods with high levels of CoQ10. Research has found that increased levels of CoQ10 help defend against the effects of periodontal disease. CoQ10 can be found in cauliflower, broccoli, spinach, soybeans, and lentils. Also, look for foods high in Omega-3s, Vitamin C, and probiotics.
Q. What is the best way to find a periodontist if I need treatment?
A. The first stop for many in finding a periodontist is their regular dentist, but friends, family, and coworkers are also an excellent resource. Thanks to the internet, finding a periodontist has never been easier. You can do a search for local periodontists in your area and even read reviews from their patients. Also, the American Academy of Periodontology has an excellent online tool for locating periodontists.
Start Feeling Better – Visit Us Today
By visiting us as soon as possible, our team can help get you the professional treatment you need. Instead of waiting around and allowing the symptoms to get worse, we can provide you with treatment options.
- Advanced periodontal disease
- Advanced periodontal disease is the fourth stage of periodontitis when tooth loss is most likely.
- Early periodontal disease
- Early periodontal disease is the second stage of gum disease after gingivitis when small pockets form between the gums and teeth.
- Gum pockets
- Gum pockets are spaces or openings surrounding the teeth under the gum line. These pockets can become filled with infection-causing bacteria.
- Moderate periodontal disease
- Moderate periodontal disease is the third stage of gum disease when teeth begin to lose bone support and become loose.
Call Us Today
Periodontitis is treatable at any stage. Our team is happy to answer your questions on gum disease treatment and prevention and maintaining your oral health. Call Summit Periodontics & Dental Implants today at call 908-219-6664 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.
Helpful Related Links
- American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). 2023
- Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Periodontal Disease Page. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Periodontal Disease Page. 2023
- WebMD, What Is a Periodontist?. WebMD, What Is a Periodontist?. 2023
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