Periodontal disease doesn't happen overnight, but over time. There are four stages of periodontal disease and they develop at different times. It's important to write down each one so you can get the right treatment. Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that can lead to tooth loss and other serious health complications.
Periodontitis, also called gum disease, is a serious gum infection that damages soft tissue and, without treatment, can destroy the bone that supports the teeth. Periodontitis can cause teeth to become loose or cause tooth loss. Periodontitis is common, but largely preventable. It's often the result of poor oral hygiene.
Brushing your teeth at least twice a day, flossing every day, and having regular dental checkups can greatly improve your chances of succeeding in treating periodontitis and may also reduce your chances of developing it. Follow your dentist's recommended schedule for regular checkups. If you notice any symptoms of periodontitis, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner you seek care, the better your chances of reversing the damage caused by periodontitis.
The bacteria responsible for periodontitis can enter the bloodstream through gum tissue and possibly affect other parts of the body. For example, periodontitis is linked to respiratory diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, and problems controlling blood sugar in diabetes. The best way to prevent periodontitis is to follow a good oral hygiene program, one that starts early and is practiced consistently throughout life. During the early stages of gingivitis, gum inflammation can occur in as little as five days.
After two or three weeks, the signs of generalized gingivitis become more noticeable. If left untreated, it will develop into mild periodontal disease. Every day, food can get stuck in the space between your teeth and gums, below the gum line. Without brushing and flossing your teeth regularly to get rid of it, bacteria build up as plaque on the surface of your teeth.
As plaque progresses, it hardens and turns into tartar. Gums can become infected when plaque spreads below the gum line. Once this happens, the gums turn red, swell, and can bleed easily. Gingivitis can usually be reversed with a good brushing and flossing routine and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist.
Kevin Wanxin Luan, adjunct clinical professor and dental implant surgeon and board-certified periodontist in the UIC Department of Periodontics.