Periodontitis (periodontal disease) is the second most common disease of the oral cavity – the first being tooth decay (dental caries, cavities). Periodontitis, or the inflammation of the periodontal (anchoring and support apparatus of the tooth), begins as a result of improper dental hygiene of the oral cavity and long-term non-removal of plaque – colorless, alternatively yellow layer containing bacteria. One of the causes lies in the improper technique of cleaning teeth. If we do not remove plaque from teeth, it causes inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). The body reacts to the inflammation with receding gums and their subsequent peeling away from the structure of the tooth. The plaque turns into tartar, which permanently damages and irritates the gum as well as the anchoring support apparatus of the tooth, further alleviating the spread of the inflammation.
The first symptom of irreversible damage to the teeth can be bleeding from the gumswhen brushing the teeth, which is a tell-tale sign of inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). A warning sign can also include receding gums and uncovered teeth roots, bad breath or a foul taste in the mouth. Our stomatologist, MDDr. Zdeněk Willam Pelc, explains in detail the occurrence of periodontitis: “It is a disease of the entire periodontal area – the gums, tissues that hold the tooth in place, tooth cement and the bone itself. If the plaque is not removed, the gums first turn red and swell. The periodontal pockets, which are the region between the tooth and the gum deepen as a result of remnants of food, plaque and tartar remaining in them. The anchoring support apparatus weakens, retreats and results in bone tissue loss.”
It can be said that we are to blame for periodontitis. The bad news is that advanced periodontitis cannot be treated much, because the bone tissue will never grow back. The positive aspect is however, that with quality treatment, early diagnosis can stop the progression and with the help of numerous dental tools, stabilize it.
Periodontitis often occurs with people who never had other problems with teeth. “When someone does not suffer from tooth decay and has only one tooth decay instance at the age of 40, then the likelihood of him/her losing teeth as a result of periodontitis is relatively high. Tooth decay (dental caries, cavities) is bacterial in nature and so is periodontitis. However, these are two different types of bacteria which cannot coexist with one another. The dental cavity is inhabited by periodontal bacteria. People without tooth decay paradoxically suffer from the fact that for example for ten years, they do not have to visit the dentist” says MDDr. Zdeněk Pelc.
Prevention and treatment of periodontitis
Periodontitis can be avoided with the help of proper dental care and frequent check-ups by your dentist and dental hygienist, where your brushing method will be checked as well as the state of your teeth. If needed, further course of action is suggested. The following dental hygiene basics apply: thorough cleaning of the teeth at least two times each day using a toothbrush/toothpaste and cleaning of interdental areas using dental floss and interdental brushes.
What you may not have known
Healthy gums never bleed. If you encounter blood while brushing your teeth, do not hesitate to visit your dentist or dental hygienist. Have your cleaning technique checked! It is also good to know that if you are a smoker, your gums do not have to bleed at all – periodontitis can take considerable amounts of time to demonstrate other known symptoms!