Periodontitis is inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth.
Pyorrhea – gum disease; Inflammation of gums – involving bone
Periodontitis occurs when inflammation or infection of the gums (
Plaque and tartar build up at the base of the teeth. Inflammation from this build-up causes a pocket to form between the gums and the teeth, which fills with plaque and tartar. Soft tissue swelling traps the plaque in the pocket. Continued inflammation leads to damage of the tissues and bone surrounding the tooth. Because plaque contains bacteria, infection is likely, and a
- Gums that appear bright red or red-purple
- Gums that appear shiny
Gums that bleed easily(blood on toothbrush even with gentle brushing of the teeth)
- Gums that are tender when touched but are painless otherwise
- Loose teeth
Note: Early symptoms resemble gingivitis.
Exams and Tests
An exam of the mouth and teeth by the dentist shows soft, swollen, red-purple gums. Deposits of plaque and tartar may be seen at the base of the teeth and the pockets in the gums may be enlarged. In most cases, the gums are painless or mildly tender, unless a tooth abscess is also present. Teeth may be loose and gums may be pulled back exposing the base of the teeth.
The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation, remove “pockets” in the gums, and treat any underlying causes of gum disease.
Rough surfaces of teeth or dental appliances should be repaired.
It is important to have the teeth cleaned thoroughly. This may involve use of various tools to loosen and remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. Proper flossing and brushing is always needed, even after professional tooth cleaning, to reduce your risk of gum disease. Your dentist or hygienist will show you how to brush and floss properly. You may benefit from medicines that are put on your gums and teeth. Patients with periodontitis should have a professional tooth cleaning every three months.
Surgery may be necessary. Deep pockets in the gums may need to be opened and cleaned. Loose teeth may need to be supported. Your dentist may need to remove a tooth or teeth so that the problem doesn’t get worse and spread to nearby teeth.
Some people find the removal of dental plaque from inflamed gums to be uncomfortable. Bleeding and tenderness of the gums should go away within 1 or 2 weeks of treatment. (Healthy gums are pink and firm in appearance.)
You need to perform careful home brushing and flossing for your entire life or the problem may return.
- Infection or abscess of the soft tissue (facial
- Infection of the jaw bones (
- Return of periodontitis
- Tooth abscess
- Tooth loss
- Tooth flaring or shifting
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Consult your dentist if signs of gum disease are present.
Good oral hygiene is the best means of prevention. This includes thorough tooth brushing and flossing, and regular professional dental cleaning. The prevention and treatment of gingivitis reduces the risk of development of periodontitis.