Periodontitis is the technical term for advanced gum disease. Gum disease starts because of insufficient tooth brushing and flossing, or in some people, simply because it runs in their family. People who have diabetes, smokers and people who take medications for certain illnesses are also more likely to get gum disease. The milder form of gum disease, called gingivitis, can develop into periodontitis if it is left untreated. Periodontitis is when the gums and teeth start to separate, and this can lead to tooth loss.
The first sign that you have gum disease, or periodontal disease, is usually red, swollen or tender gums. You may have bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away. If you find yourself using mouthwash more than usual for bad breath, if your gums hurt or if they bleed when you brush your teeth, then you probably have gingivitis. You should make an appointment as soon as possible for an exam and to discuss treatment before it gets worse.
Treatment for gum disease includes periodontal cleaning and the removal of plaque and tartar buildup. Periodontitis is treated by cleaning and infection removal methods called scaling and root planing. Scaling is the removal of tartar from the gum line. Root planing removes rough spots on the teeth that allow bacteria to collect. After treatment you might be prescribed medicated mouth rinses or antibiotics to control infection.
The most severe cases of periodontitis may require surgical procedures. Periodontitis can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene. You should brush your teeth twice a day and don’t skip the flossing. Flossing is important for removing food particles between your teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach.