Periodontitis – Symptoms and causes

Table of Contents

Periodontitis is a disease that inflames the tissues and infects them around one or more teeth, especially in the periodontal area. If this is not treated in time it can end up in a dental extraction from the root and in particular cases it can also diminish the immune system of people suffering from this disease. 

Although it is serious, it is very easy to contract and affects all the tissue that supports the tooth. It is estimated that up to 15% of the world’s population develops it, not counting people who do not believe it is necessary to treat it and do not go to the dentist. 

What types of periodontitis are there?

There are two types of periodontal diseases, and this depends on the type of involvement. If it is more superficial, we speak of gingivitis, and if it is deeper, of periodontitis.

Gingivitis is a superficial inflammation of the gum area. We can determine it through bleeding when brushing or spontaneously, and also by pain when chewing and hypersensitivity. We could consider it as the first stage of periodontal disease, and it is when it is still reversible and we can treat it quickly and effectively. 

Periodontitis is the final stage of periodontal disease, and it is when the infection has deepened in the gum and begins to affect the surrounding teeth. In addition, it causes tooth recession in the affected tooth and periodontal pockets are created, which will cause different types of bacteria to lodge in the area and eat all the nerve tissue that is in the tooth root. 

In 50% of the cases this disease does not cause too much characteristic pain, in fact, they can progress to final stages without the need to hurt. Therefore, diagnosing it and acting in time is fundamental to avoid catastrophic results. 

What are the causes?

Gum disease or also called periodontal diseases develop through the proliferation of bacteria. We have to consider that we can store more than 700 types of bacteria in our mouth, so it is not a good idea to store so many in one area. 

They are usually on the teeth, in the inner gum area and can even be stored if there is some kind of dental implant that is not completely sealed. But their negative proliferation develops through a very bad dental hygiene or an incorrect one, which will cause bacteria not to be eliminated and make large groups of them in these different areas of the mouth. All this will end up in the development of bacterial plaque in the areas where there is not a correct cleaning, especially in the spaces of the teeth. And also in the grooves of the gums or in previous dental fissures that have not been treated. 

In addition, there are many other factors linked to this disease such as:

  • Tobacco use
  • Anxiety or stress
  • Diseases such as diabetes
  • Weak immune system
  • Hormonal changes, such as pregnancy, menopause or taking some type of birth control pills or oral contraceptives in general. 

Therefore, the development of periodontal disease and its severity can be determined by the risk factors mentioned above, or by the presence of one or more environmental factors. 

What are the symptoms of periodontitis?

Among the main symptoms that can alert that something is wrong in your mouth, are: 

  • The main and first sign that alerts that something is going on is:
  • Bleeding gums, this can occur during brushing time or spontaneously.
  • Halitosis
  • Hypersensitivity to different types of temperatures
  • Gum recession
  • Involuntary separation of teeth

Development of abscesses in different areas of the teeth, especially in the gums. This last symptom could indicate that you are in an advanced stage of periodontitis.  

In people who have a tobacco addiction, the disease is usually diagnosed at the most critical point. Since the effect of tobacco decreases blood flow, therefore bleeding gums will not be visible and you will only notice it when the pain is unbearable, because you already have halitosis and hypersensitivity in your teeth. 

If you are a smoker, we recommend that you pay special attention to your teeth and your overall health, as the habit is not bringing anything good to your health. 

In case you have any of these symptoms, we recommend that you see your doctor to determine the seriousness of your case so that you can be treated before it is too late.

What are the possible complications?

Periodontitis not only affects our teeth, but also our general health. Currently there are scientific studies that support the relationship of periodontitis with the increase of vascular diseases, decompensation of diabetes, and different types of respiratory infections. In pregnant women it can also affect childbirth, making it premature. 


Periodontitis and diabetes have a close bidirectional relationship that should be studied in depth and controlled from the moment it is determined that there is periodontitis in the teeth. In fact, it can affect the diabetes patient in the long term if not treated immediately.

Like any other disease that develops through infection, periodontitis alters the metabolic-endocrine status of people. Therefore, the diabetic patient is much more affected and there is a great possibility of suffering periodontitis if not sufficiently cared for. And it can even cause insulin resistance to develop, making it more difficult to control blood glucose levels. 

Diabetic people are more prone to suffer from different periodontal diseases thanks to the fact that their condition reduces salivary flow, so there is a greater amount of dental plaque accumulated on the teeth, and therefore a greater amount of cavities, infections, periodontal diseases and different types of conditions. For periodontitis, the diabetic patient is a playground, as it will easily destroy the tissue that supports the tooth, cause the tooth to recede, and change the immunocompetent and other cells that are essential to prevent inflammation. 

Cardiovascular disease:

Periodontitis serves as a risk factor for the creation of arteriosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory condition, so infectious diseases or diseases that also have a percentage of inflammation can affect the control of atherosclerosis, even developing it much, much more, which can lead to the development of coronary syndromes of great severity. 

Currently we have found some of the germs that cause this disease present in atheroma plaques in the blood vessels. So an untreated periodontitis can give a release to the bloodstream full of bacteria, toxins and inflammatory processes that can increase problems in other areas of our body, as it is in cardiovascular disease, as there is the possibility that this obstruction generates the possibility of a heart attack. 

Both conditions have similar risk factors that can be changed, such as smoking or obesity, and need to be improved to reduce the chances of serious conditions that require hospitalization. 

How is periodontitis treated? 

Dentists are the only specialists who have the ability to determine tooth disease and treat gum disease, as well as guide patients to good dental hygiene through prevention lectures and constant examinations of the dental condition. They even take care of reconstructing tissues lost due to periodontitis. 

There is a possibility that depending on the case being treated, the dentist may need the support of a periodontist, who is the one who will help determine the treatment and follow-up of more advanced cases. 

The basis of treatment is treated under the inspection of the gums and if they are in good condition, a scaling and root planing should be performed, which is nothing more than a manual cleaning of the entire root of the tooth. In addition to a dental guide for proper hygiene after this procedure. 

In case something deeper is needed, the second phase of the treatment is used. This consists of small surgeries on the gums to reduce the effect that the periodontitis may have left in the area. 

In both cases it is essential to have a maintenance guide and constant check-ups of the patient to reduce the possibility of the appearance of new infected areas, especially in patients who have much more marked risk factors. 

Nowadays, we have scientifically confirmed that periodontics does not deal with these cases in isolation, and that it is increasingly related to different areas of general medicine and even to the pharmaceutical industry. It has been proven that oral health can seriously affect other parts of the body, so it is important to check their problems and prioritize their attention. 

Ten tips to prevent the onset of periodontitis

The state of our teeth and gums can determine the kind of life we lead and how positive our health is, even when we don’t give it much importance. From a young age we should consider oral health as a priority and maintain a daily cleaning guide, just as we do with our skin.

Brush your teeth every day

Prioritize cleaning your teeth every day, three times a day. Clean them for at least two minutes with the toothbrush, and if you can, take a little longer at night, since it is the end of the day and it is when teeth accumulate the most bacteria.

Beyond the brush

It is important that we brush our teeth, but you can also add other types of instruments, for example, dental floss and tongue irrigators, which will keep your mouth totally clean. The tongue is very important to clean, so if you don’t have an irrigator you can do it in the meantime with your own toothbrush. 

Reinforce the cleaning with rinsing

Finish the cleaning of the mouth always with a mouthwash, gargling for 30 seconds is enough to remove all the residues and leave a unique feeling of freshness. 

 Avoid certain foods

We are not suggesting that you go on a diet and eliminate carbohydrates, but we do recommend that you decrease the amount of foods that have sugar, as well as carbonated beverages and excess carbohydrates. And you may ask, why carbohydrates? Well, because in the stomach they are converted into sugars, which attack tooth enamel and can cause cavities.

Opt for other healthier foods

Food is the basis of health throughout our body, what goes into your mouth will define how healthy you are. If you want to maintain a healthy habit, you can avoid fatty foods and opt for those that are rich in unsaturated fats, for example, oily fish, nuts, among others. And to clean our teeth, nothing is better than green tea. 

Take care of yourself if you are pregnant

In case you are planning to become pregnant or you are already in the process, it is essential that you schedule an appointment with your trusted dentist to give you the new instructions that you will follow in this new stage of your life. Since the hormonal changes will be more profound and this will also affect your dental condition. 

Maximum precaution against certain diseases

In case you suffer from diabetes or have some type of cardiovascular disease, take care of your oral health. As we explained in previous points, you are much more prone to develop oral diseases. 

 Banish the fear of going to the dentist

Many people deprive themselves of good oral health for fear of what will happen at the dentist’s office. But it is important to know that the dentist will not do anything outlandish if your dental health does not require it, and how do you try to be healthy if you do not prevent it? Going to the dentist beforehand for occasional check ups will take a huge burden off your shoulders.

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