Advanced Gum Disease Is Preventable, But Is Periodontitis Reversible?
Modern Treatment for Periodontitis
Gum disease is a prevalent oral health issue in adults, made even more serious by how silently it develops. Periodontitis is the most severe form of gum disease, but many people don’t realize they have it until the damage is already being done. Thankfully, early stages of periodontal disease are treatable and reversible. But what about periodontitis, the late stage?
Here are the answers to a few very common questions we hear about periodontitis.
What is periodontitis?
Gum disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. Within these two stages, there are also different phases that describe the severity of the condition. Advanced periodontitis is the final stage of gum disease that occurs when pockets of infection form, leading gum tissue to pull away from the teeth.
Symptoms of periodontitis include:
- Excessive plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth
- Chronic bad breath despite proper brushing and flossing
- Bleeding gums that feel tender and swollen
- General feeling of pain or pressure in the gums when eating
- Receding gums and teeth appearing to look longer
- Teeth that feel wiggly and loose
- Visible signs of infection, such as pus coming from the gums.
Periodontitis is an extremely destructive oral health problem. Not only is gum disease the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, but advanced periodontitis can result in the complete loss of all natural teeth, permanent gum erosion, and deterioration of the jawbone.
What causes periodontitis?
Periodontitis is the result of gingivitis and gum disease being left untreated for an extended period.
Excessive plaque is the primary cause of all forms of periodontal disease. As plaque builds on the teeth, it pushes further downward into the gum pockets. An inflammatory response is triggered, and when inflammation becomes a chronic state, the gums begin to pull away from the tooth, and the teeth may become loose or even fall out.
Gingivitis and very early-stage gum disease is characterized by chronic inflammation. When that inflammation and infection start to damage structures, the disease has progressed to periodontitis.
Is periodontitis reversible?
Science shows promise, but at this time periodontitis isn’t considered reversible. Tooth loss, gum recession, and bone deterioration lead to permanent damage that can only be repaired through restorative dentistry and oral surgery.
Gingivitis is reversible, and mild cases of gum disease also fall into the same category if severe tissue damage hasn’t occurred yet. All forms of gum disease, including periodontitis, are preventable.
How is periodontitis treated?
Despite the damage periodontitis can cause, the good news is that most cases of periodontitis respond very well to treatment. Due to the serious nature of this level of gum disease, your dentist will take swift action in starting a treatment program.
The first focus is to get infection and inflammation under control. Periodontal therapy will be used to remove bacteria, dead tissue, and other debris from your infected gums. A special deep cleaning process called scaling and root planing will be performed numerous times until the infection is gone. Laser therapy can also be a very effective tool. Additionally, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help your body fight the infection.
Advanced cases of periodontitis may also require periodontal surgery to repair the damage. Gum and bone grafts are necessary for rebuilding a healthy foundation for your smile after loss of teeth and gum tissue.
Once your infection is gone, your dentist can then help revive your smile with restorative dentistry services. Missing teeth can be replaced with dental implants, a bridge, or denture options. Gum contouring can also be done to reshape your gums.
Periodontitis might not be reversible, but the damage won’t last forever. Your dentist will help you recover and reclaim a full, healthy smile once again.
How can I prevent periodontitis?
Despite the damage periodontitis can cause, it’s considered a highly preventable condition because it tends to develop over time, not rapidly.
You can prevent periodontitis by:
1. Visiting your dentist for a checkup and cleaning every six months and booking additional visits if unusual symptoms occur (i.e., gum bleeding).
2. Prioritizing your oral hygiene routine at home with excellent brushing and flossing habits and eating a nutritious diet with minimal sugar.
3. Being aware of risk factors you may have, such as tobacco use, side effects from medication, or a hereditary propensity for excessive plaque development.
If you’ve had gum disease before, you have a higher chance of relapse. Your dentist will consider your history of periodontal disease and customize your preventive care plan to reduce your chances of relapsing.
Protect your gum health at Parmer Lane Family Dentistry!
Dr. Garcia and the Parmer Lane Family Dentistry team provide comprehensive dental care services to the community surrounding Austin, TX. From routine preventive care to full-mouth rehabilitation after periodontitis, Dr. Garcia can help you achieve and maintain optimal oral health.Schedule an appointment today by calling our office or requesting a visit online.