What is Periodontitis?Periodontitis is a severe infection of the gum which results in severe damage to the soft tissues surrounding the teeth as well as causing the base bone to get degenerated. Periodontitis not only results in tooth loss but also causes other medical disorders such as stroke and heart attack among others.
What are the signs and symptoms of Periodontitis?These are the commonly seen signs and symptoms of periodontitis:
- Inflamed gums
- Purple or bright red patches on the gums
- Gums become tender to the touch
- Gums that recede from the base of the teeth and make them look larger than normal
- Excessive gaps develop between the teeth
- Pus formation shows between gums and teeth
- Bad breath
- Constant bitter taste in the mouth
- Teeth get loosened
- Teeth can be felt shifting when taking a bite
- Chronic periodontitis – This is more common type and mostly seen in adults.
- Aggressive periodontitis – This usually develops from the childhood or early adulthood and is not so common.
What are the causes for Periodontitis?The main cause for acquiring periodontitis is plaque (a film of mainly bacteria that forms on the teeth). This plaque, when left intact for longer periods of time, can become hard and develop into tartar (calculus). This tartar acts as a collecting point for bacteria and might need a dentist’s help in removing it. The damage to the teeth increases as plaque is left on the teeth for a longer time period. It starts with a mild irritation and inflammation of the base of the gum (gingiva) which is known as gingivitis. Untreated gingivitis causes gaps to develop between the teeth and gums that get filled with bacteria, plaque and tartar. A bacterial deposit called as ‘endotoxin’ is responsible for the inflammation of the gums. Eventually the gaps increase and the bacteria enter deeper in the base of the gums resulting in severe infections which causes loss of bone and tissue.
What are the risk factors which can result in Periodontitis?There are several factors that contribute to the development of periodontitis in a person, these are:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Tobacco usage
- Old age
- Immunity decrease
- Insufficient nutrition
- Hormonal changes
- Drug abuse
What are the treatment options for Periodontitis?The basic aim of treatment of periodontitis is cleaning the gaps between the teeth and gum completely so as to decrease the risk of further damage from occurring. This treatment may be carried out by a dental hygienist, dentist or a periodontist. There are two different types of treatment for periodontitis.
Non surgicalIn case of mild periodontitis a non surgical method of treatment is found to have satisfying results. These non surgical methods are:
- Scaling – This procedure removes bacteria and tartar deposits from the surface of the tooth and between the gums. An instrument or an ultrasonic device may be used in this procedure.
- Root planning – This is used to make the root surface smooth which prevents further collection of bacterial endotoxin or tartar.
- Antibiotics – A topical or oral antibiotic can help control bacterial infection.
Surgical treatmentIn case of severe periodontits the periodontitis may have to perform dental surgery to achieve the desired results. These can be of any of the following:
- Pocket reduction surgery (flap surgery) – This procedure requires the periodontist to make minute incisions in your gum to lift a portion of the gum tissue and expose the affected tooth root. At times the base of the tooth will need to be restructured before putting the flap of the incised gum in place. This procedure helps remove the bacterial and tartar deposits as well as closing the gap formed between the gums and the teeth.
- Soft tissue grafts – Periodontitis can cause loss of gum tissue and the gum-line recedes noticeably. This means that the periodontist will need to reinforce the damaged soft tissues of the gums. This is done by harvesting a portion of the palate (roof of the mouth) or any other suitable harvest site for soft tissues and fixing it to the affected site. This procedure helps to decrease additional recession of the gums as well covering the exposed roots.
- Bone grafting – This procedure becomes necessary when the periodontitis severity has affected the bone around the root of your tooth. The graft is made of small pieces harvested from your own body or it could be from a donor or even synthetic implant. This bone graft is useful in stabilizing loose teeth as well as serving as a base for the re-growth of the natural bone.
- Guided tissue regeneration – This procedure is performed by placing a medical-grade fabric between the bone and the teeth which facilitates the growth of the destroyed bone.
- Enamel matrix derivative application – This procedure requires the dentist to apply a special gel to the affected root of the tooth. This gel is made from certain proteins that are necessary for development of tooth enamel and this stimulates the growth of healthy bone and tissue.