The short answer is no, not exactly. The more involved answer is that periodontitis is a stage of gum disease—the most severe stage, to be exact. Gum disease, in some shape or form, affects over 70% of the adult population over the age of 65, and periodontitis is the leading cause of permanent tooth loss in the United States. Simply knowing there’s a difference between gum disease and periodontitis won’t keep your mouth healthy, but understanding how to deal with the disease, and the consequences of failure, might help you save your smile.
From Infection to Disaster
There are several stages of gum disease, the first of which involves a bacterial infection resulting from excessive plaque buildup. Known as gingivitis, the infection causes your gums to swell and separate from your teeth (inflammation and recession), damaging the structures that support your teeth. As gum disease progresses, it erodes your periodontal tissue, and can spread to the jawbone underneath if left untreated. Periodontitis, the most severe form of gum disease, describes the continued destruction of your gums and jawbone, which can leave your mouth unable to retain all of your teeth.
The Tenets of Periodontal Dentistry
As one of the most common dental diseases (next to cavities), gum disease can develop if you slack even a little bit in your dental hygiene routine. Plaque, the sticky substance that adheres to your teeth and gum line, is made of bacteria, and when it bombards your oral tissues, the germs can trigger your immune system’s defenses, like excessive inflammation. If you notice that your gums are swollen or bleeding, then visit Dr. Maria or Dr. Thanasi Loukas as soon as possible for a thorough examination. To prevent excessive bacteria, brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day, and attend a regular dental checkup and cleaning at least once every six months.
Recovering from Severe Periodontitis
Despite its high-treatability, gum disease often progresses into periodontitis due to poor hygiene and neglect, and many patients lose one or more teeth before seeking periodontal treatment. If the disease costs your smile a tooth or several, then Dr. Loukas may recommend replacing them with dental implants. The small devices are surgically inserted into your jawbone to act as prosthetic roots and support your dental crown, bridge, or denture (depending on the severity of your tooth loss). Before your implants can be placed, however, your mouth must be free of gum disease, or the infection can complicate the success of your implant placement.
About Your Park Ridge Dentists:
Dr. Maria and Dr. Thanasi Loukas are highly-skilled restorative, cosmetic, and implant dentists serving the Park Ridge and surrounding Chicago communities. To schedule an appointment, call Loukas General Dentistry today at (847) 696-1919.