Periodontal disease, also called periodontitis, is an advanced form of gum disease. This occurs when you don't have gingivitis treated. It can lead to a lot of negative side effects that require extensive dental work. Here is more information about this type of gum disease and what can be done about it.

How is it caused?

The main cause of periodontitis is poor dental hygiene combined with lack of dental visits. When you visit the dentist, they can look for early warning signs of gum disease and treat it. However, if you fail to visit the dentist on a regular basis, you become a higher risk for that gum disease advancing to periodontal disease. There are also some risk factors that might make you susceptible to periodontitis, including:

  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Having diabetes
  • Having illnesses that lower your immune system
  • Taking medications that lessen your saliva
  • Being genetically prone to gum disease

What are the symptoms?

Many of the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease are the same as with gingivitis, but they are often worsened. There are also some signs that are more common with this advanced form of gum disease. If you notice any of the following things, you should see your dentist right away: 

  • Loose teeth
  • Overly-sensitive teeth
  • Bleeding or swollen gums
  • Bad breath
  • Tender gums
  • Pain while chewing
  • Receding gums
  • Bad taste in your mouth

What are the treatment options?

The sooner you can get treatment for periodontal disease, the better off you will be. The severity of this gum disease and how it is affecting your teeth and gums will determine what the best treatment is. Here are some common types of treatments for periodontitis:

Deep cleaning – One of the first treatments you will probably get is deep cleaning, also called scaling and root planing. This procedure involves removing tartar from the teeth above and below the gumline, as well as removing rough spots on the tooth's root. These spots are where bacteria tends to gather, so removing them will help your gums start to heal.

Flap surgery – If you have deep gum pockets, it leaves more room for bacteria and food particles to further infect the gums. Your dentist might recommend flap surgery, which will remove tartar deposits in deep gum pocket, followed by reducing the periodontal pocket. The gums are pulled back to remove the tartar then sutured closed.

Grafts – Your dentist may also recommend either a bone or tissue graft. You may have lost some gum tissue or bone due to periodontitis and need to have it restored. For example, if your teeth appear longer than normal due to the gum tissue deteriorating, you can get a tissue graft. Bone grafts are helpful if you need dental implants or other restorative procedures.

If you're concerned about oral hygiene, talk with a dentist at a practice like Kappenman Family Dental to learn what other things you might be able to do to prevent such diseases.