Periodontitis is a bacterial disease. In principle, due to the accumulation of plaque, all patients develop gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gingiva without destruction of the supporting tissues.
Although gingivitis is usually the beginning of other periodontal diseases, the mere presence of bacteria does not imply that there will be a progression to the destruction of the supporting bone of the teeth, which is known as periodontitis. Other factors are required for this progression.
What are the causes of periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a multifactorial or probabilistic disease, in which there is an interaction between genes and environment. For periodontitis to develop, there must be specific bacteria in addition to other biological risk factors (systemic diseases, genetics or immune response) and environmental factors (oral hygiene, smoking and stress). This multiplicity of factors triggers a series of metabolic changes that cause the destruction of the bone supporting the teeth or periodontium.
High global incidence
Periodontitis is the sixth most prevalent disease worldwide. Severe forms of the disease occur in 10% of the global population, with the peak occurring around the age of 40. Despite prevention, the incidence has not decreased in the last two decades and affects both men and women equally.
Can it be prevented?
Preventing gingivitis is the first and most important measure to prevent periodontitis from developing. That is, swollen and bleeding gums are the first symptoms we should pay attention to. In addition, when there is oral health, the color of the soft tissue or gums is usually coral pink. On the contrary, when there is a gingival lesion, the gums change color to a more reddish and shiny one.
In order to prevent periodontal diseases it is very important the self-care of oral health by the patient, since the accumulation of bacterial plaque and tartar can be avoided with proper oral hygiene habits. This consists of proper brushing technique and daily flossing. In addition, a mouthwash can optionally be used, although this does not specifically affect the reduction of gingivitis.
What are the most appropriate treatments?
The most important and appropriate treatment is prevention. We recommend all patients to have a check-up with a dental specialist twice a year, in addition to a dental cleaning. In this way it is also possible to follow each case more closely and avoid any type of pathology, such as periodontitis, in time.
When a case of periodontitis is diagnosed, it is important to know that each patient will have different causes and stages, and will require different treatments. The first thing to do is to perform a periodontal study on the patient and, if necessary, a microbiological study in order to be able to study the specific case in more depth and to be able to carry out a specific treatment and follow-up.
Useful tips to maintain healthy gums and teeth
1- Toothbrushing: 2 or 3 times a day
2- Interproximal hygiene or between the teeth: 2 times a day with floss, dental floss or interproximal brushes.
3- Tongue hygiene: 2 or 3 times a day.
4- Mouthwash: unless prescribed, it is an optional step in oral hygiene.