Periodontitis: Can tooth loss be prevented?

Periodontics is the part of dentistry that studies, diagnoses and treats diseases of the supporting tissues of the tooth, i.e. gum, ligament and bone.
One of the most common gum diseases is gingivitis, which causes irritation, redness and inflammation in the area surrounding the teeth. When gingivitis is not treated, the infection reaches the ligaments and bone, which is known as periodontitis. This loss of tooth support causes the teeth to loosen and eventually fall out.
One of the main causes of periodontitis is the existence of bacteria and tartar. However, it is a multifactorial disease, which is also influenced by other aspects such as genetics, smoking, stress, hormonal alterations and systemic diseases such as diabetes.

Is there a treatment for gingivitis and periodontitis?

In the case of gingivitis, the treatment consists of professional hygiene to eliminate tartar and bacterial plaque. In addition, we seek to improve the hygiene procedure at home.

Periodontitis is treated with a similar but deeper procedure, since the subgingival tartar, which is located under the gum at the root of the tooth, must be accessed. Through a treatment known as scaling, the root is conditioned so that the gum, once deflated, can reattach. If this type of procedure is not sufficient, because the tartar is too deep under the gums, a surgical phase may be necessary to remove it completely.

What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?

There are several signs that indicate that we should visit the dentist. The most common are bleeding of the gums when brushing the teeth, inflammation or red color of the gums and presence of tartar. In more advanced cases there is retraction of the gums and tooth mobility.

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In addition to these clinical signs, in order to make a diagnosis, a radiographic study is necessary, which will show if there has been bone loss and how much, and a periodontogram, which measures the distance between the bone and the gum.

Benefits of periodontics

It is important to keep in mind that not all people who have periodontal disease present clinical symptoms. For this reason, an annual dental check-up is recommended in order to diagnose disease and restore gum health. This can prevent further bone loss and consequent tooth loss.
In addition, in case of a diagnosis of periodontal disease, it is necessary not only a “shock” treatment, but also a good maintenance of oral hygiene, since bacteria are always present in the mouth and diseases can reactivate.