Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease, microbial (bacterial) in its nature, affecting the tissues that surround and support the teeth. In a picture below, various stages of periodontitis are shown: from early to advanced stage with stronger and stronger tissue resorption.
As a few other chronic inflammations, periodontitis may impair vascular function, and epidemiologic data suggest a possible link between periodontitis and cardiovascular disease. In early 2000's a connection between inflammatory conditions such as periodontitis and risk of atherosclerosis was well established. Since then a number of other cardiovascular conditions and adverse pregnancy outcome risk have been linked to periodontitis. It has also been reported to be a risk factor for Alzheimer disease and rheumatoid arthritis as well.
Early diagnosis and intervention should be the primary goals of periodontal treatment. However, periodontitis often progresses without noticeable symptoms, and many patients do not seek professional dental care until the periodontal destruction progresses to the point of no return.
It is important to know symptoms of periodontitis:
- Redness or bleeding of gums while brushing teeth or using floss
- Recurring gum swelling
- Bad breath and a persistent metallic taste in the mouth
- Tissue recession, resulting in apparent lengthening of teeth and deep pockets between the teeth and the gums
Proper dental hygiene is critical for preventing and controlling periodontitis. If no proper teeth hygiene is practiced, microbial plaque calcifies to form calculus, which is commonly called tartar. Calculus above and below the gum line must be removed completely by the dental hygienist or dentist to treat gingivitis and periodontitis.
In advanced stages of periodontitis, loosing teeth is a common problem, and success of implant placement can be limited. Implants placed in patients treated for periodontal disease are associated with higher incidence of complications and lower success and implant survival rates than those placed in periodontally healthy patients. Severe forms of periodontal disease are associated with higher rates of implant loss. Thus, in advanced stages, periodontitis requires an observation and treatment by a periodontology specialist, but severe condition prevention can be achieved by regular teeth hygiene and visits to a general dentist to teeth cleaning or scaling/root planing if clinically reasonable and necessary.