Periodontal disease, or periodontitis, is an infection of the gums caused by bacteria accumulating on the teeth and gums. The bacteria accumulate from poor dental hygiene. It is a severe disease which, if left untreated, can cause damage to the teeth and bones.
Periodontitis can be diagnosed in a regular dental check-up by your dentist or dental hygienist. It is thus essential to go for regular check-ups to catch the disease early if it is there.
Dentists use an instrument called a periodontal probe to measure the pockets on the gums. If the pockets are more than three millimeters deep, and if they bleed, it means that they are not healthy. The test is quick and painless.
If you have periodontitis, your dentist will diagnose it as one of the three main stages:
- Early-stage (Gingivitis) - In this stage, inflammation of the gums occurs and is caused by plaque (bacteria) buildup in the gums. Your gums are likely to bleed and feel inflamed.
- The disease stage (Periodontitis) - In the main stage of the disease, the plaque hardens, and deeper pockets form where bacteria, food, and pus gets accumulated. The gums become very irritated and bleed more intensely. The supporting bone and fibers that hold the teeth get damaged. This damage is irreversible, but the dentist can make sure no further damage is caused.
- Advanced Periodontitis - In the advanced stage, the bone and fibers that keep your teeth in place start to deteriorate. Teeth get loose and may fall off. Unless aggressive treatment is performed, the affected teeth need to be removed.