Periodontal disease

This text provides information in simple language on the topic: Periodontitis.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontitis is a disease affecting the tooth. This loosens the connection between tooth and gum. This connection is called: Tooth Retention Apparatus. The tooth retention device connects the teeth with the jawbone. It consists of:

  • connective tissue
  • Gums
  • Divide the jawbone

The picture shows the tooth retainer.

© W & B / Szczesny

In the case of periodontitis, the tooth-retaining device becomes ill. Bacteria cause dental disease.

What happens with periodontal disease?

There are various bacteria in plaque. The bacteria multiply. Some of these bacteria excrete acids and toxins. The acids and toxins attack the gums. This is why the gums become inflamed. It swells up. This creates a space between the tooth and the gum. The doctor calls this space: the gum pocket.

Bacteria can live in the gum pocket under ideal conditions. But the body reacts to the bacteria with its defense system. The body then activates certain cells. These cells can break down the jawbone. The cells destroy the tooth-retaining apparatus and your own bones. As a result, the tooth protrudes further and further from the gum. The teeth then look longer.

In periodontitis, the tissue in the space between the teeth is missing. That's why you can see dark triangles between your teeth. Is periodontitis not being treated? Then the tooth can loosen and maybe fall out.

How can you recognize periodontal disease?

Sufferers often do not notice periodontitis for a long time.

You can recognize periodontal disease by these signs:

  • Do your gums bleed when you brush your teeth or bite into an apple? Then this can be a sign of the onset of periodontal disease.
  • The gums are red or swollen.
  • The gums recede. Therefore, the tooth necks are exposed. The teeth then often look longer.
  • The teeth are sensitive to heat and cold.
  • Bad breath.

The picture shows: The left tooth is healthy. The right tooth has periodontal disease. Therefore, the gums are reddened and the neck of the tooth is exposed.

© W & B / Jörg Neisel / arr. Szczesny

The teeth can sometimes loosen. But this often only happens with severe periodontal disease.

Info: Periodontitis usually occurs in the mouth. However, the bacteria can also spread throughout the body. Affected people may then have inflammation in the body. The inflammation on the tooth can get worse and further illnesses can develop.

Signs of severe periodontitis include:

  • a jaw clamp. It is then difficult for those affected to open their mouths.
  • Discomfort when swallowing.
  • a lumpy language.
  • Swelling of the face or neck.

You think: I might have periodontal disease? Then go to the dentist. The dentist will examine you and give you all the important information.

What are the causes of periodontal disease?

The causes of periodontal disease are, for example:

  • Bad oral hygiene. Saliva is quickly deposited on a clean tooth. Bacteria settle with the saliva. This is how plaque develops. The dentist also says: plaque.
  • Transmission. Periodontitis can be contagious: it can be transmitted, for example, through shared utensils.
  • Tartar. The body defends itself against pathogens: it surrounds the pathogens with lime. This is how tartar builds up. Tartar has a rough surface. Bacteria can settle on this surface. They spread particularly quickly there.
  • Pregnancy. Hormones are released during pregnancy. The hormones make the gums more sensitive. Brushing your teeth then causes pain. Therefore, pregnant women can suffer from poor oral hygiene.
  • Disposition. Periodontitis often occurs within the family: Do your parents or siblings have periodontitis? Then you too can develop periodontal disease.
  • Smoke. Tobacco smoke contains nicotine. The nicotine means that less blood gets into the gums. Only a few immune cells then get into the gums. Therefore, the body can no longer fight off the bacteria.
  • Metabolic diseases. Do you have diabetes or a rheumatic disease? Then you can get periodontal disease more easily.

How can you avoid periodontal disease?

Do you want to avoid periodontal disease? Then there are a few things you can do:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day. The teeth are more susceptible to bacteria right after brushing their teeth. Therefore, you should not brush your teeth until half an hour after eating.
  • Use floss and interdental brushes regularly. You can use the brushes to remove plaque from between the teeth more easily.

The picture shows: How to wrap dental floss around your fingers.

© W & B / Kursawe

There are techniques and aids for proper dental care. Your dentist will give you all the important information. Professional teeth cleaning also keeps teeth clean and healthy for longer. Ask your dentist about it. Your health insurance company may cover part of the cost of professional teeth cleaning.

What else can you do?

  • Have you had periodontal disease treatment? Then go to your dentist for follow-up examinations on a regular basis. Without regular follow-up care, inflammation can reappear.
  • Go to your dentist for regular checkups. Then the doctor can know periodontitis early.
  • They smoke? Then try to quit smoking. Smokers are at higher risk of developing periodontal disease.
  • Some diseases increase the risk of periodontal disease, such as diabetes. Therefore, you should seek treatment from your doctor for other conditions such as diabetes.

What can you do about periodontal disease?

Periodontitis can be stopped. The dentist can remove the bacteria. To do this, the dentist cleans the teeth thoroughly: For example, he removes plaque from the teeth. During the treatment, the patient is given a local anesthetic. So the patient does not feel the treatment. As a result of the treatment, the gums grow back close to the tooth.

Sometimes the gum pockets are very deep. Or the inflammation in the gums does not go away. Then the dentist may have to operate on the affected areas.

Important: Thorough dental care prevents plaque. The plaque on the gum line and between the teeth cannot be removed by brushing your teeth. Use dental floss and interdental brushes for this. Mouth rinses can also help with dental care. Talk to your dentist. The dentist tells you: this is how you take good care of your teeth.

Where can you get more information?

Would you like to read more about periodontitis? You can find more information about periodontal disease here. Attention: This link leads out of our simple language offer. The information is then no longer in plain language.

Attention: You will only find general information in this text. The text does not replace a visit to the doctor. Only a doctor can give you accurate information. Are you feeling sick? Or do you have questions about an illness? Then you should always see a doctor.

We wrote the texts together with the Light Language Research Center. The light language research center is at the University of Hildesheim.