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A word of caution about periodontitis and gingivitis

Periodontitis is one of the most severe oral diseases a patient could potentially develop. Good oral care is paramount to prevent a full-on periodontitis and the teeth loss that´s usually correlated with the condition. But what is Periodontitis? What are the symptoms? And how can we prevent it?

As we eat and live our daily lives, bacteria finds a way to our mouths, if left unchecked the interaction between food residue and bacteria produces plaque, which can easily be removed with frequent brushing and good toothpaste. But if the patient doesn´t have good oral hygiene habits, the plaque hardens and becomes a yellowish substance called tartar.

Tartar is more difficult to deal with; actually, you can only remove it with the aid of a dentist, patients get tartar removed during regular checkups (actually, we all do, since everyone develops at least a bit of tartar). As tartar is left untreated it forms between the teeth and the gums, which eventually evolves into a disease called gingivitis.

Gingivitis is the precursor of periodontitis; it’s a mild gum disease characterized by swollen gums, and bleeding; as long as it gets treated right away there is little to be afraid of as there are no side-effects of major consequence.

If a patient doesn´t deal with the gingivitis, that’s when things can take a turn for the worse, as it evolves into a full on periodontitis. As tartar keeps growing, the gum recedes, eventually exposing the joining between the bone and the tooth (the root). Bacteria attacks said joining, weakening the tooth and damaging the bone.

At this point the patient shows one or more of these symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Swollen gums
  • Bleeding
  • Sensitive teeth

If left untreated the disease will eventually weaken the root and the odds of losing one or more teeth is pretty high.

Even if you have a good health routine, there are several risk factors that could lead to periodontitis, for example: Smoking, hormonal changes during puberty (girls), medication which interrupts or impedes salivation, diabetes, and other diseases which facilitate opportunistic infections.

The disease is treated by making a thorough cleansing and removing any and all tartar, keep in mind that in some extreme cases, the process might even have to be applied in two sessions, and the health specialist might even recommend some form of medication to attack the infection itself.

Periodontitis is one of the main reasons why you should be very careful with your oral hygiene and why you should always see a dentist.


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