Periodontitis is a severe oral health issue. But with proper treatment, your gums can heal.
While tooth decay ranks as the most common oral health problem in the U.S., gum disease comes in at a close second. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates nearly 50 percent of U.S. adults exhibit some signs of gum disease. However, nine percent of the population have the most severe form of gum disease, known as periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.
Poor dental hygiene, smoking, and genetics top the list of periodontitis causes. Although periodontitis cannot be cured in the latter stages, it can be managed with professional treatment and good oral care. If you need treatment for periodontitis, read on to learn what to expect and how long it will take to recover.
The stages of periodontitis
Periodontitis develops when bacteria mix with the sugars and starches in the foods you eat to form a sticky film called plaque, which attracts even more bacteria. Daily brushing clears most of the plaque and bacteria off the teeth and gums. But if plaque and bacteria aren’t removed, the two combine into tartar, a hardened substance that inflames the gum tissue. Periodontitis results from a long-standing inflammation and bacterial infection of the gums.
Gum disease advances through distinct stages with progressively worsening symptoms. The mildest form, gingivitis, is characterized by swollen gums that bleed easily when brushing. At this stage, the gums and bone supporting the teeth remain unaffected. If not treated at this point, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, which has three stages:
Mild periodontitis. Noticeable pockets emerge as the gums pull away from the tooth. Bone loss begins.
Moderate periodontitis. Bone loss and tissue erosion continue as the bacterial infection takes hold. The gums feel even more tender and sore.
Severe periodontitis. Teeth start to loosen, and pus forms around the gum line. Without therapy at this stage, tooth loss is a definite possibility. Severe periodontitis can also result in health problems outside of the mouth if the bacterial infection spreads to the heart and causes cardiovascular issues, including stroke and heart disease.
How is periodontitis treated?
What treatment you receive depends on the stage of the disease. The earlier therapy begins, the better chance of a good outcome. So, it’s essential to see your dentist at the earliest signs of gum disease for non-surgical and surgical treatments.
Scaling and root planing. In this standard procedure, the dentist first scales tartar and bacteria off the teeth and gums. Then, they will smooth the roots to prevent a buildup of bacteria. Scaling and root planing require no extended downtime as recovery is relatively quick.
Antibiotics. Prescription topical or oral antibiotics can halt the spread of a bacterial infection.
Flap surgery. After making an incision into the gums, the dentist will fold back the gums to expose the roots. This enables the dentist to perform a thorough scaling and root planing. The bones are resurfaced before the gums are stitched in place.
Tissue graft. Tissue from the roof of your mouth or a donor replaces lost gum tissue and protects the tooth root.
Bone graft. If gum disease has destroyed bone tissue, you may need a bone graft to reinforce the bones supporting the teeth. The bone graft can come from your own bone, a donor, or synthetic material.
Tissue regeneration. The dentist will place a special fabric between the bone and the tooth to promote bone growth.
Because gum disease surgery is a more invasive procedure, recovery may take one to four weeks. Your dentist will monitor your progress to ensure you fully heal.
Don’t want gum disease. Prevent it!
Following treatment, your dentist will recommend daily brushing and flossing, limiting sugary foods and beverages, and regular dental checkups. Taking medications as prescribed and keeping the treatment area clean can also speed up healing.
But you can prevent periodontitis with the same oral care routine of brushing at least twice daily, flossing every night, and rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash. And don’t skip those twice-yearly dental appointments! Not only will these visits allow a dental hygienist to remove damaging tartar, but the dentist can also spot the early signs of gum disease and start you on any necessary treatment. In addition, avoid smoking. Tobacco damages your heart and lungs as well as your gums.
Meet your gum disease specialists in Wyoming
Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Cheyenne, WY, location today! Dr. Brenon Farmer and Dr. Dale Lazar lead an experienced team that can inspect your gums for any signs of gum disease and suggest the right treatment plan. Don’t live near our Cheyenne, WY, office? Find one of our other locations near you.
7112 Commons Circle
Cheyenne, WY 82009