Periodontitis – the most common periodontal disease.

Periodontology is a branch of dentistry that deals with diagnosing and treating diseases and problems of the periodontium, as well as of the tissues surrounding the tooth and located directly by it.

What exactly is periodontium?

Periodontal disease is a social disease. Both children and adults experience periodontal health problems. Besides caries, they are one of the major causes of tooth loss in adults. Also noteworthy is the statement that they are included in the list of the ten most common diseases in the world. The periodontium itself is a set of tissues that surround and support the tooth. It consists of: gingiva, periodontal ligament, cementum and alveolar bone. Moreover, periodontium can be divided into the marginal periodontium and the periapical periodontium. In addition to keeping the tooth in the bone, its function is to protect the structures directly under the gums.

What are the causes of periodontal diseases?

The primary cause of the periodontal disease is poor oral hygiene or even its lack. The oral cavity is a perfect environment for numerous bacteria and fungi. Saliva helps to keep the amount of them in a relative balance. We should aid the removal of bacteria from the oral cavity by brushing and flossing our teeth. Of course, it is helpful only when done properly. Otherwise, the bacteria which deposit on teeth turn into thick tartar over time, which is a perfect medium for the growth of pathogens. Thus attacked soft tissues and ligaments become ill. There are other causes of periodontal disease, apart from poor oral hygiene or its lack, which include:
- genetic predispositions,
- systemic diseases,
- congenital or acquired malocclusions,
- poorly made prosthetic restorations (bridges, crowns, dentures),
- bruxism,
- grinding of teeth.

There may be more causes, such as poor dental fillings, poor diet (B and C vitamins deficiencies), alcohol abuse and smoking. Problems may also appear in people with bulimia. Gastric acids can weaken the gums and lead to erosion. In addition, hormonal changes which occur during puberty, pregnancy or menopause can affect periodontal health. Also, taking certain medications can contribute to the deterioration of the condition of our mouth (medications for epilepsy and certain cardiovascular diseases, antibiotics of the cephalosporin group, contraceptives).

Periodontitis - what kind of disease is it?

This disease affects nearly 70% of the Polish society. Unfortunately, it is a hereditary disease. This name means nothing else as an inflammation of the periodontium, which can lead to tooth loss. The cause of the inflammation is the bacteria present in plaque and tartar. We discussed the causes of periodontal diseases above. As for the symptoms, the first and often the only one is bleeding of gums when brushing the teeth. There are also other symptoms, such as: redness and pain of gums, exposed tooth necks, hypersensitivity to temperature changes, shifting of teeth (gaps between teeth), wobbling of teeth, bad breath and lastly tooth loss.

Treatment of periodontitis

Periodontitis is a chronic inflammation of the periodontium. Since it is chronic, its treatment can be time-consuming. Only patience and systematic actions will bring desired results. Frequent dental appointments are costly, but the fight for keeping your own teeth is worth it. Stopping the disease or slowing it down allows one to enjoy a natural smile for a longer time. According to the World Health Organisation, up to 50% of diseases in children could be avoided if proper attention was paid to prevention.

The treatment of periodontitis itself is highly dependent on the severity of the disease. The degree of severity is described by the so-called community periodontal index of treatment needs (CPITN). A patient with a healthy periodontium which bleeds after minimally invasive probing requires only oral hygiene instructions. However, non-surgical treatment may be necessary. In such case, tartar should be removed, periodontal pockets with a depth of less than 6mm thoroughly cleaned and overhanging fillings corrected. If the periodontal pockets are deeper than 6 mm, such cases are treated with surgical methods.

Who treats periodontitis?

All periodontal diseases are treated by a separate branch of dentistry called periodontology. A periodontist should focus primarily on the most complicated cases. Many procedures can be performed at each dental practice by a trained dental hygienist or a dentist.

How to prevent periodontitis?

The best way is to regularly visit a dental practice. There are cases in which even meticulously taking care of oral hygiene at home cannot save us from periodontitis. Dental appointments are thus the only opportunity to react in the right way at an early stage and hinder the progression of the disease. Regular check-ups and full dental cleanings (supragingival and subgingival scaling, sandblasting, polishing, fluoride treatment) help to significantly reduce the risk of periodontitis.