Periodontitis or periodontal disease, more commonly known as gum and jawbone disease, is a bacterial disease affecting the supporting structures of the teeth such as the gums (gingiva), periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone (part of the jawbone). This can also cause a great deal of damage to the structures which provide support, and nourishment to your teeth; and is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.
Periodontitis is caused by a build-up of plaque, a colourless bacterial film that forms on the teeth. This build-up can lead to gum inflammation, which is known as gingivitis and is fairly common among children and adults. When gums become compromised, the seal between the teeth and gums opens and the bacterial infection deepens into the tissue. This can cause severe damage to the underlying bone and periodontal ligament and if left untreated will result in tooth loss. Preventing gingivitis and periodontitis is best done through practising good oral hygiene and regularly visiting your dentist.
How it can affect you!
The symptoms of periodontitis include inflamed gums, bleeding (especially when brushing/flossing your teeth), and pain when eating, especially if there are mobile teeth, bad breath or taste and teeth sensitivity. If left untreated, periodontitis can cause irreversible damage to the supporting tissues around the teeth and even lead to tooth loss.
Periodontitis is strongly linked to some major systemic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, even some forms of arthritis. If you already suffer from any of these conditions, it is important to ensure you keep your gums and teeth healthy and clean. Periodontitis can significantly affect your ability to manage your systemic medical condition and may affect how often you take medication or what medication dosage you require.
Luckily, periodontitis is treatable. Early diagnosis makes a huge difference as the more advanced the disease the harder it will be to prevent or treat. The treatment will minimise the bacteria building up so that your body can begin to heal. This can be achieved by a conscientious effort to maintain good oral health at home, a professional deep cleaning of your teeth, and regular teeth maintenance by your dentist and hygienist, or therapist.
Causes of gum disease?
The following increase your risk:
- Smoking - smokers tend to have more tartar buildup on their teeth. The more you smoke, the harder it is to treat
- Plaque and bacteria from poor oral hygiene allow infections to grow
- Stress weakens your immune system, which makes you more prone to infections
What we eat not only affects our overall health, but also our oral health. A balanced diet and plenty of water help to keep our teeth and gums healthy.