Answers to Your 10 Most Common Questions About Periodontitis

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, periodontitis, and even gingivitis, is a severe gum infection that causes damage to the soft tissue of your gums and can destroy the bone that supports your teeth. Without treatment and supervision by a dentist or periodontist, gum disease can lead to your teeth loosening and eventually falling out. With such serious consequences, it is only natural to have several questions about periodontal disease and what you can do to prevent it. Check out our list of 10 questions and answers about periodontitis and gingivitis.

1. What is periodontal disease?

As mentioned, periodontal disease is a gum infection that causes damage to the soft tissue on your gums and can destroy the bone that supports your teeth.

2. What causes periodontal disease?

Gum disease is usually caused by inadequate brushing and flossing habits. When you don’t brush your teeth twice daily and floss daily, it allows plaque to build up on your teeth and harden. As periodontal disease progresses, it can lead to sore, bleeding gums, painful chewing, and tooth loss.

3. What is the difference between gingivitis, periodontitis, periodontal disease, and gum disease?

This is a common question, as these four terms are often used interchangeably. The simplest way of answering this question is to clarify that gum disease encompasses all three of the other terms. But periodontitis and gingivitis are both types of periodontal disease. The most significant difference between the two is that you can reverse gingivitis with proper dental care and oral hygiene habits. Periodontitis, however, results in bone loss, which can’t be reversed. This means that periodontitis is a permanent condition, and rather than trying to cure it, your dentist or periodontist will take steps to mitigate the illness to keep it from getting worse.

4. What are the stages of periodontitis?

As the previous question’s answer might imply, periodontal disease can be looked at in four stages. The first stage is gingivitis. Then, once your gum disease has advanced beyond gingivitis, it can be viewed in three degrees of severity, including slight periodontal disease, moderate periodontal disease, and advanced periodontal disease.

5. Is periodontal disease curable?

Gum disease, otherwise known as gingivitis, can be reversed with proper dental care and oral hygiene habits. Your dentist or periodontist will look for early signs of gingivitis at your regular dental checkups and cleanings. For most patients, you can cure gum disease in this early stage. Unfortunately, as gum disease progresses and evolves into periodontitis, it can’t be cured. Instead, your dentist will work with you on steps to mitigate the illness and keep it from progressing further.

6. How can I prevent periodontal disease?

The best way to prevent the onset of gum disease or periodontal disease is to practice good oral hygiene. This means you need to brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash. You should also visit your dentist at least twice a year for a dental checkup and cleaning. These tips are also the best way to get rid of gingivitis.

7. What are the risk factors for periodontitis?

There are a variety of factors that will increase your risk of developing periodontal disease. In particular, you are at greater risk for this illness if you have or do the following:

  • Existing gingivitis
  • Practice poor oral health habits
  • Smoke or chew tobacco
  • Undergo hormonal changes, such as those related to menopause and pregnancy
  • Practice recreational drug use, especially smoking marijuana or vaping
  • Obesity
  • Poor eating habits with inadequate nutrition or a vitamin C deficiency
  • Predisposition to gum disease via genetics
  • Prescription medications that lead to dry mouth or changes in the gums
  • Leukemia, HIV/AIDS, and cancer treatment
  • Diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease

8. What does periodontal disease do to my mouth?

When gingivitis is left to progress into periodontitis, the infection and pockets within your mouth will deepen and eat away at your jaw, causing your teeth to loosen and potentially fall out. Unlike with baby teeth, you don’t want your adult teeth to fall out because your body will not grow a replacement. As your periodontal disease progresses, your gums will begin to recede and separate from the teeth. This can also cause changes to your bite and may lead to pain when biting down or chewing.

9. What does periodontitis do to my body?

In addition to wreaking havoc on your mouth and teeth, periodontal disease can cause harm to your immune system, heart, and blood sugar. Further, it can cause issues with fertility and can lead to low birth weights in newborn babies.

10. Where should I go from here if I have periodontitis or gingivitis?

If you have periodontitis, a dentist can help. Treatment for periodontitis and gingivitis usually involves a thorough cleaning of the pockets around your teeth, with the goal of avoiding further damage to the surrounding bone. Your dentist may recommend nonsurgical treatments like scaling, root planing, and antibiotics. Surgical treatments for severe cases may involve flap surgery, soft tissue grafts, bone grafting, guided tissue regeneration, or an application of tissue-generating proteins.

How can Berrien Dental help with your periodontitis and gingivitis?

The best way to address periodontitis and gingivitis is to make a trip to the dentist for a dental assessment. During your appointment, the Berrien Dental team will review your medical history, examine your mouth, measure the depth of the pockets in your mouth, and take dental X-rays to check for bone loss. We will then work with you on a treatment plan to help you obtain better oral health. To get started, simply request an appointment by using our convenient online form. We look forward to helping you.