Does Periodontal Disease Go Away?

If you’ve recently been told that you have periodontal disease, you might be feeling a little distressed, especially, if you had no idea there was anything wrong with your gums.

We understand that discovering you have gum disease can be a worrying time, especially when you realise that it can cause tooth loss and increase your risk of developing a range of serious health conditions.

Try not to worry though, around 47% of people over 30 years old, have some degree of periodontal disease. As it’s a pretty common condition, lots of research has been carried out and dentists are very knowledgeable about how to treat it.

You may have several questions about periodontitis like – does periodontal disease goes away? Can it be reversed?

There is good news. The progression of periodontitis can be completely halted with effective treatment. But stopping periodontitis from getting any worse requires teamwork between your dentist and you.

Whilst the disease can be halted, the gum recession and any tooth or bone loss caused by advanced periodontitis can’t be reversed. But, worry not, your gums, bone and teeth can be restored with surgical treatments such as dental implants and bone grafts.

This post aims to explain what periodontitis is, its signs and symptoms, as well as how it’s treated and prevented. As periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss (around 70% of tooth loss is caused by periodontal disease), we finish with a section on the best way of restoring your smile and replacing missing teeth.

does periodontal disease go away

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal Disease, also called gum disease, is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gums and bones that surround and support the teeth. The inflammation is caused by the body’s reaction to bacteria in the mouth.

The Different Types of Gum Disease

There are different types of periodontal disease.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease. There is irritation and inflammation of the gum tissue around the base of your teeth. The gums become red and swollen, and they may bleed easily. There is little pain or discomfort at this stage and many people are unaware that they have it.

The good news is that gingivitis can be reversed with good home oral care (regular brushing and flossing) as well as regular dental checkups.

However, untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis.

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Periodontitis

With time, dental plaque that caused gingivitis spreads and grows below the gum line. The bacteria produce toxins and our immune system tries to rid our gums and teeth of the bacteria.

A chronic inflammatory response is stimulated and in error, the cells of the immune system destroy the gums and jawbone that are holding the teeth in place. 

The swollen and inflamed gums separate from the teeth producing pockets that become infected. The bacterial infection has easier access to the bone and soft tissue causing further destruction.

As the disease progresses deep pockets develop. The teeth get loose and wobbly. They may even fall out.

Stages of Periodontitis

When periodontitis is diagnosed, the dentist will classify the disease according to an internationally recognised system. Your periodontitis will be given a grade and a stage.

The stage refers to how severe the disease is and the grade describes how fast it is likely to progress.

Signs & Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

If your gums are pink, firm and fit snuggly around your teeth they are healthy. It indicates that you have good oral health. However, if you experience any of the following it could indicate that you have gum disease.

  • Bright red or purple swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums – you may see blood when you clean your teeth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Gum recession or sunken teeth
  • Gaps appearing between the teeth, loose teeth or tooth loss
  • Changes in bite
  • Gum abscesses
  • Pain with chewing
  • Increased gum sensitivity

If you experience any of the symptoms above, you should make an appointment to see your dentist. They can make an assessment and develop a treatment plan if required.

Complications of Periodontal Disease

Untreated periodontitis can cause many issues in the oral cavity and other parts of the body.

Oral Complications

The bacteria cause the gums to recede, destroy the jaw bone and affect the ligaments holding your teeth in place. The gums, jawbone and connective tissue are what hold your teeth in your mouth. The destruction of them ultimately leads to your teeth becoming wobbly and falling out.

The Mouth-Body Connection

Bacteria in the mouth enter the bloodstream via diseased gums and can affect the rest of your body. Periodontitis has been linked to osteoporosis, coronary artery disease, rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory disease, and cancer. It can also cause problems controlling blood sugar in diabetes.

Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease

The chances of you developing gum disease may be increased by a variety of factors.

  • Family history – genetics and hormonal changes (pregnancy and menopause) may mean that you are more susceptible to developing periodontitis regardless of how good your oral hygiene is.
  • Environmental factors – poor oral health, smoking, obesity, poor nutrition (including vitamin C deficiency), stress, clenching and grinding your teeth as well as partaking in recreational drugs increase the risk of gum disease for a variety of reasons.  
  • Underlying Health Conditions and their treatment – Systemic diseases such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease and Crohn’s disease that interfere with the inflammatory system may affect the condition of the gums.
  • Conditions that decrease your immunity – ailments such as leukaemia, HIV/AIDS and cancer treatment inhibit the body’s ability to fight the disease. 
  • Medications – some medicines cause gum changes or a dry mouth (the meds prevent saliva production). The reduced saliva means that food debris and bacteria are not washed away. 

Treating Periodontal Disease 

The key to treating periodontal disease is the elimination of the bacterial plaque that triggers the inflammatory response and disease process. Healthy gums and preventing further destruction of the supporting structures is the goal of treatment.

Treatment includes establishing excellent oral-hygiene practices, scaling and root planing (deep cleaning), antibiotics and corrective flap surgery. Once the disease is under control, frequent dental appointments will be needed to ensure disease control is maintained.

If the disease has caused significant destruction of the gum tissue, soft tissue grafts may be required to restore receding gums.

Bone grafting may be required if significant bone loss has occurred and you want to have dental implants fitted to replace any missing teeth (see below for more on dental implants).

Guided tissue regeneration and tissue stimulating proteins may also be used to stimulate the growth of bone and soft tissue.

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Can You Reverse Periodontitis? 

If you have gingivitis, the precursor to periodontitis, it can be reversed with good oral hygiene and regular professional dental cleaning.

However, if untreated, and gingivitis has progressed to periodontitis, the disease can only be prevented from getting worse. It can be halted in its track. Sadly any bone loss, ligament damage or gum recession, can only be restored with surgical treatments like bone or soft tissue grafts.

Can I Cure It at Home?

The best way to cure periodontal disease, at home, is by developing and maintaining good dental hygiene. This will help to keep the area above and below the gum line clean. 

This will go a long way towards curing your periodontal disease. You may also need to use a Gum Pocket Brush for below the gum line cleaning and see a dental hygienist for those hard-to-remove areas of tartar or for deep pocketing.

How to Prevent Periodontal Disease?

The key to preventing gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis) is looking after your teeth and gums.

The best way to do this is by developing and maintaining good oral hygiene at home, attending regular dental checkups, and addressing any poor lifestyle choices.

This will ensure that bacteria is removed regularly from the teeth and gums. If there are no bacteria, gum inflammation and gingivitis will not develop. If there’s no gingivitis, it can’t progress to periodontitis.

Oral Hygiene

You should brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste for two minutes at least twice a day. You can use a manual or electric toothbrush. Use dental floss or interdental brushes to clean between the teeth and use mouthwash at least once a day. This is the best way to prevent gingivitis and tooth decay.  Your dentist can give you the advice or you can get further information from the NHS.

Regular Dental Checkups

See your hygienist every 3-6 months to remove any plaque and tartar. The dentist can spot any inflammation before it becomes a serious issue. 

Address Lifestyle Choices

We hear it all the time, but stopping smoking, eating a healthy diet and reducing the intake of caffeine and alcohol can help prevent gum disease.

Treating Tooth Loss Caused by Periodontitis

If you’ve lost one or more teeth as a result of periodontitis it can have a huge effect on your smile, the way you eat and talk, as well as your confidence and self-esteem. Over time it can cause a change in your facial appearance making you look prematurely old.

Once your dental health has been restored there are several ways you can replace your missing teeth and rehabilitate your smile and the function of your teeth.

Traditional methods such as bridges and crowns can be used to replace your teeth. But the best way to replace lost teeth is with dental implants which act as artificial tooth roots and teeth.

Dental Implants

will periodontitis go away

Dental implants consist of two parts, a titanium screw that is fitted into the jaw bone and an artificial crown. There are several treatment options, a single dental implant, a row of teeth supported by 2 implants and denture supported implants.

Dental implants offer many advantages over traditional methods of replacing lost teeth because they are firmly rooted in the jaw. They help to prevent bone loss and they don’t slip or fall out like traditional dentures. Speaking, smiling, eating and self-confidence are restored.

Find out more about what dental implants are

Get Treatment for your Periodontal Disease

Treating periodontal disease starts with a solid home routine or ‘Daily Self-Performed Care’ as we call it at the GDG. It’s the bedrock of oral health and paramount to minimising inflammation and disease.

But it can be a struggle to master the brushing techniques or you may not be equipped with the right tools. That’s why the team at the GDG have designed and developed the Gum Pocket Brush to help you clean in your pockets and hard to reach places.

Beat Gum Disease Now
Gareth Edwards image

Written by Gareth Edwards

Co-Founder & GDG Dentist

Dr. Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS (RCPS Glasgow) is GDG Co-Founder and Gum Disease Expert.

He is a practicing dentist based in Bournemouth, UK and has treated thousands of patients with gum-related diseases.

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