Periodontitis is an infection of the gums that damages the teeth, soft tissue, and bone supporting the teeth. Periodontitis must be treated immediately because it can cause serious complications.
Periodontitis is a complication of untreated gingivitis . If this condition occurs in the long term, the tissue around the gums and teeth will be damaged, causing tooth loss. In severe cases, periodontitis can cause abscesses or collections of pus to form in the teeth.
Causes of Periodontitis
Periodontitis starts with plaque buildup on the teeth. This plaque is formed due to the interaction of leftovers with bacteria that normally live in the mouth. If not cleaned, the plaque will harden and form tartar which becomes a breeding ground for bacteria.
Over time, the bacteria in the tartar will produce toxins which can cause inflammation and irritation of the gums around the teeth (gingiva). If not treated immediately, gingivitis can cause gaps to form in the gums that separate the gum tissue from the teeth.
This gap causes bacteria to infect deeper so that it damages the tissue and bone in the gums. Besides being able to cause tooth loss, persistent inflammation of the gums can also weaken the immune system.
Periodontitis risk factors
Apart from untreated gingivitis, there are several factors that can increase a person's risk of periodontitis, namely:
- genetic factor
- Lack of nutrients, including vitamin C
- Lack of care to clean teeth and mouth
- The habit of smoking or chewing tobacco
- Taking drugs that reduce saliva production
- Hormonal changes during menstruation , pregnancy, or menopause
- Certain diseases, such as Down syndrome , Crohn's disease, diabetes , and rheumatoid arthritis
- Conditions that reduce the body's immune system, such as suffering from leukemia, HIV/AIDS, or currently undergoing chemotherapy
Periodontitis symptoms can vary and depend on the development of inflammation that occurs in the gums and teeth. However, there are several symptoms or complaints that are commonly experienced by periodontitis sufferers, namely:
- Pain when chewing
- Plaque and tartar buildup on teeth
- The distance between one tooth and another feels tenuous
- The gums recede making the teeth look longer
- Gums are reddish or purplish in color
- The gums are painful to the touch
- Gums are swollen and bleed easily
- Pus discharge from the teeth and gums
- Loose or loose teeth
- Sensitive teeth
- Bad breath
When to see a doctor
Check with your dentist if you experience the symptoms of periodontitis as previously mentioned, especially if you have factors that can increase your risk of developing periodontitis.
Do regular dental and mouth checks to the dentist to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. If you see that tartar has formed, immediately go to the doctor so that the tartar is removed before it develops into periodontitis.
Diagnosis of Periodontitis
To diagnose periodontitis, the doctor will conduct a question and answer regarding the patient's complaints and medical history. Next, the doctor will check whether there is bleeding around the teeth due to plaque, and measure the depth of the gap between the gums and teeth.
The depth of a fissure in a healthy mouth is 1–3 mm. Meanwhile, in periodontitis, the depth of the gap can be 4 mm or more.
The doctor can also do a panoramic X-ray examination to determine the level of damage and bone loss due to periodontitis.
Periodontitis treatment aims to reduce inflammation, remove gaps that form between the gums and teeth, and address the causes of gum inflammation. The method of treatment depends on the severity.
In periodontitis that is not severe, the treatment methods used by doctors are:
- Scaling , to remove tartar and bacteria from the surface of the teeth or the bottom of the gums
- Root planing , to clean and prevent further accumulation of bacteria and tartar, as well as to smooth the root surface
- Administering oral antibiotics , mouthwash or gel, to eliminate the bacteria causing the infection
- Extraction of the affected tooth, so that the accumulation of bacteria does not get worse and attack the surrounding teeth
For periodontitis that is severe, the doctor will perform surgical procedures, such as:
- Flap surgery , to reduce tartar deposits in pockets or gum gaps
- Soft tissue grafts or soft tissue graft surgery, to replace tissue damaged by periodontitis
- Bone grafting or bone graft surgery, to repair the bones around the destroyed tooth roots
- Guided tissue regeneration , to stimulate new bone growth to replace bones destroyed by infection
- Tissue-stimulating proteins , to stimulate the growth of new tissue and bone
If left untreated, periodontitis can cause the following complications:
- Gear shift
- Loose or loose teeth
- Jawbone infection
- Collection of pus accompanied by pain in the tooth ( dental abscess )
- Infection or abscess of the soft tissues in the mouth, one of which is actinomycosis
- Increased risk of heart disease , respiratory problems, and diabetes
Meanwhile in pregnant women, periodontitis can increase the risk of pregnancy complications, such as low birth weight babies and preeclampsia .
Some preventive measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of periodontitis are:
- Brush your teeth regularly, at least twice a day, namely every morning and before going to bed.
- Clean between the teeth using dental floss ( dental floss ).
- Avoid smoking and using vape .
- Avoid activities that can trigger stress.
- Adopt a healthy and balanced diet.
- Take regular control and treatment if you have diabetes.
- Maintain ideal body weight or lose weight if you are obese.
In addition, do routine dental checks to the dentist every 6-12 months. However, if you are in a group of people who are more at risk of developing periodontitis, such as smoking or are taking drugs that cause dry mouth , more routine checks need to be carried out.