You may have heard your dentist talk about periodontitis. Also called advanced stage gum disease, periodontitis is a serious gum infection that causes a host of oral health problems, including bad breath. It can damage teeth, gums and the bone that supports your teeth. 

The basics of periodontal disease
To gain a deeper understanding of periodontitis, we have to first take a step back. Periodontitis starts with gingivitis, the mildest form of periodontal disease. At this point, gums appear red, swollen and bleed easily. Although your gums may be irritated, your teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets, and no extreme bone or other tissue damage has occurred. Gingivitis is reversible with a combination of good oral home care and professional treatment. 

However, when left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis. Gums begin to pull away from teeth, leaving large pockets where more bacteria and food debris can linger. The plaque grows below the gumline, allowing toxins to irritate gum tissue. Essentially, this can trigger a chronic inflammatory response that starts to break down the bone and connective tissues that hold the teeth in place. In a worst-case scenario, tooth loss can occur. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. 

Symptoms of gum disease
Although the symptoms of periodontal disease occur gradually - making them difficult to notice - the condition has warning signs. Learn about them to fight off this harmful condition. The symptoms include:

Causes of periodontitis
The number one cause of gum disease is the buildup of plaque, which may occur from these contributing factors:

Mouth-body connection
The mouth is the gateway to the body. Research indicates that periodontitis is linked to systemic ailments, such as diabetes and heart disease, and pregnancy problems. Scientists explain that the same bacteria responsible for periodontitis can enter your bloodstream through your gum tissue, causing problems with your heart, lungs and other parts of your body. 

6 tips to maintain proper oral health
Periodontitis is common but largely preventable! To avoid problems, here are six key tips:

  1. Brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  2. Floss once a day. 
  3. Some dental profressionals may recommend using chlorhexidine (a prescription mouthwash)
  4. Some dental professionals my also recommend that you Rrnse with TheraBreath Periotherapy Oral Rinse to keep your breath fresh and gums looking pink.
  5. Cut down on sugary foods and drinks.
  6. Visit your dentist regularly, at least once every six months. See your dental professional immediately if you are concerned about receding gums, or notice any signs of periodontal disease.
  7. Stop using tobacco products.