Your teeth are remarkable. They're responsible for your unique smile, they help you communicate, and of course, they help you eat delicious foods. You only get your adult teeth once in a lifetime, so it's a good idea to hold on to the ones you've got. And that's why we're going to tell you the best ways in which you can avoid periodontitis – a gum disease that can cause your teeth to loosen or even fall out. We'll let you know how to prevent periodontitis, tell you about the risk factors involved, symptoms you should look out for, and the treatments available so you can protect the smile that makes you who you are.
What Causes Periodontitis?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47.2 percent of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease (or gum disease).
If you have some inflammation or bleeding in your gums, you may be in the early, less severe stage of gum disease called gingivitis. If your gingivitis goes untreated, inflammation can develop into a more severe condition called periodontitis. Periodontitis causes tissue to recede, bone to wear away, teeth to loosen, and your teeth could even fall out.
But don't worry, by practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dental professional regularly, you can maintain a healthy smile.
Like many diseases, periodontitis can spread and potentially affect other parts of the body if left untreated. So don't allow any irregularities in your gums to go unaddressed. For instance, it's possible that gum inflammation could cause cardiovascular complications. If you happen to be pregnant, periodontitis could cause complications with your pregnancy. Stroke, cancer, pulmonary disease, and rheumatoid arthritis could be exacerbated by periodontitis as well. By catching gum disease early, your dental professional will be better able to protect your smile and your overall health.
In many cases, periodontitis is preventable by practicing good oral hygiene (more on that below). According to the American Academy of Periodontology, there are a variety of risk factors for periodontal disease.
- Certain lifestyle choices can increase the risk of getting periodontitis, like:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Unhealthy diet
- And stress
- According to the CDC, 70.1% of adults over the age of 65 have periodontal disease.
- Some medications can have adverse effects on your oral health. Speak with a medical professional about any potential side effects your medicine could have.
- Other medical conditions can increase your risk of periodontitis, like:
- Cardiovascular disease
And pregnancy complications can all contribute to periodontal disease.
Other illnesses are being evaluated for possible connections to periodontitis, including pancreatic cancer, pulmonary disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.
If you have dental implants or are thinking about getting implants, you may have heard of peri-implant diseases. These gum diseases are indeed unique to dental implants, but the implants themselves do not put you at a higher risk of getting periodontal disease. Implants function just like your real teeth – by avoiding the above periodontal disease risk factors and practicing good oral hygiene, your dental implants can last a lifetime.
If your dental professional diagnoses you with gum disease early, scaling and root planing can reverse its effects. Your dental professional will remove plaque from your teeth and your gums using manual tools and ultrasonic vibrations. Your dental professional can smooth out your teeth' roots to ensure your gums reattach after the procedure. Scaling and root planing can require one or more visits.
Learn more about scaling and root planing.
If you have advanced periodontitis, you may require one of the following surgeries:
- Flap Surgery (Pocket Reduction Surgery)
- Small incisions will be made in your gums, exposing the roots for more effective scaling and root planing.
- Soft Tissue Grafts
- Tissue from the roof of your mouth (or another donor source) is attached to an area of gum recession.
- Bone Grafting
- Synthetic bone, your bone, or donated bone is grafted to the bone around your tooth root, helping to prevent tooth loss.
- Guided Tissue Regeneration
- A biocompatible material is placed in your gum to prevent unwanted tissue from entering an area of bone loss, allowing bone to grow back instead.
- Tissue-Stimulating Proteins
- A gel containing proteins found in developing tooth enamel is applied to the diseased tooth root. This gel stimulates the growth of healthy bone and tissue.
Brush at least twice a day. Floss or clean between your teeth with interdental brushes or water flossers at least once a day; use an antimicrobial mouthrinse and a tongue scraper. Be sure to see your dental professional for regular appointments and to check the health of your teeth and gums. If you notice any irregularities or sensitivities in your gums' health, don't wait until your next checkup – make an appointment with a dental professional right away.
When you take care of your health and your oral hygiene, you can protect yourself from periodontitis. You may discover that you can take on anything.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.