Most people occasionally have some inflammation and bleeding of the gums. This usually isn’t a major problem, at least at first. However, when left untreated, this inflammation, otherwise known as gingivitis, may worsen and cause damage to the soft tissue and bone responsible for keeping our teeth anchored. This more severe form of gum disease is an infection referred to as periodontitis. Over time, periodontitis can cause teeth to loosen or be lost.
Maintaining healthy oral habits and going for regular dental checkups can prevent gingivitis from becoming periodontitis. If you develop periodontitis, treatment performed by a dentist or hygienist can stop or slow down the progression of this serious gum infection. Often, more challenging periodontal care, particularly surgical care, is provided by a periodontist, a dentist with advanced training in the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease. Treatment works best when accompanied by good at-home care and control of risk factors for periodontal disease. Let’s take a closer look at how periodontitis is diagnosed and treated.
How is periodontitis diagnosed?1
During a routine dental checkup, your dentist will be able to detect signs of periodontitis at an early stage. Therefore, it is important to schedule regular dental visits at least once a year. Your dentist can determine whether you have or are at risk for periodontitis and its level of severity using the following method:
What are the treatment options for periodontitis?2
Periodontitis treatment aims first to thoroughly clean plaque and tartar from the pockets around teeth and prevents further damage to the surrounding bone and gum tissues. Successful treatment is only possible when you adopt a daily routine of good oral care and manage health conditions and habits that may impact your dental health. There are two types of treatments depending on the severity:
Nonsurgical treatments for early stages
If periodontitis isn’t advanced, treatment may involve minimally invasive procedures, including:
Surgical treatments for advanced stages
If periodontitis is advanced, surgical treatments may be required, such as:
Periodontitis can be prevented if early gum problems like gingivitis are detected and treated early enough. But if you have periodontitis, then routine dental checkups with your dentist are crucial to ensure that your periodontal disease doesn’t progress. To avoid the problem getting worse, you may need more frequent dental visits. For successful treatment, it is important to maintain excellent oral hygiene habits, control risk factors like smoking or bruxing, and closely follow your dentist’s instructions.
Looking for more information? Learn more about periodontitis:
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2020, February 14). Periodontitis. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/periodontitis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354479.