Periodontitis is a medical term that refers to the inflammation of the periodontium (tissues surrounding the tooth). It affects the tissues that support the teeth and include both the gums and nearby ligaments. Also, it can also affect the alveolar bone which supports the base or root of the teeth. The disease progresses with the passing of time, deteriorating these important structures. Therefore, the teeth lose grip and can move easily, they can even end up falling. This is the most common cause of tooth loss in adolescents and adults.

The most frequent signals that characterize this alteration are the following:

  • Halitosis (bad breath)

  • Changes in the color of the gums, where they will show a bright red or slightly purple color. The patient may also suffer sensitivity and pain in the area that gets worse with progression.

  • Frequent bleeding and inflammation of the gums (gingivitis). Hemorrhage may occur during brushing or spontaneously.

  • Gingival recoil, which describes damaged and retracted gums, causing the teeth to appear more elongated than normal.

  • Loose teeth

What follows are the most frequent triggers of this disease:

  • Gingivitis: It’s an abnormal inflammation of the gums. If left untreated it can aggravate into periodontitis. It usually develops from the accumulation of plaque and tartar at the base of teeth. Finally, microbes accumulate and begin to produce toxins that can cause irreparable damage.

  • Smoking: This habit damages the tissues that form the oral cavity, increasing the risk of developing certain diseases.

  • Hormonal alterations: The gums become more sensitive and susceptible to future dental pathologies.

  • Diabetes: Periodontitis can appear as a precocious symptom of this disease.

  • Certain pathologies: For example, AIDS and various types and subtypes of cancer can present this alteration throughout its evolution.

  • Certain medications: Some drugs cause a reduction in the amount of saliva produced by the oral mucosa. Saliva contains certain substances that protect our tissues from microbes. Less saliva means less defensive resources for our oral health.

  • Genetic factor: If there is a relative in your family who has suffered from this problem, you are then more likely to develop the condition.

Your dentist or specialist can carry out a series of examinations or medical tests to identify the origin of the alterations. The most common are a physical exam, allowing the dental expert to appreciate the level of abnormal recoil of the gums. Also, he/she can evaluate the accumulation of dental plaque or tartar on the roots. The other test is X-rays to obtain an image of the affected area where the reduction of the support of the teeth (or its absence) is appreciated.

To effectively eliminate periodontitis, different recommendations are carried out. First, all tartar or dental plaque need to be removed from the surface of the teeth. This is done through a brief scraping. Second, good dental hygiene is imperative. This can be achieved through frequent brushing, flossing, the use of mouthwash and dental checkups every 6 months. Thirdly, avoid smoking and alcohol consumption, along with a healthy lifestyle that includes proper diet and moderate physical exercise. If you suspect periodontitis, check immediately with your dentist or specialist to avoid major complications that the disease brings. Prevention is key!

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