Taking care of your teeth is a highly important part of living a comfortable life. Dental problems, like periapical periodontitis, can often spiral out of control if not treated. In this article, we’re going to look at what exactly is this form of periodontitis is, what causes it, its symptoms and what treatment options are available.
Many people might confuse periapical periodontitis with periodontitis. The latter is the advanced stage of gum disease, but periapical periodontitis is something different.
So, what exactly is periapical periodontitis? This is when there’s some inflammation of the soft tissue that surrounds your tooth’s root (the periodontium). This inflammation is generally located right at the tip of your tooth’s root and can cause a lot of pain in your gums if not treated. It’s more commonly referred to as apical periodontitis.
The Two Types of Periapical Periodontitis
There are two different types of periapical periodontitis that might start troubling you: asymptomatic and symptomatic.
Asymptomatic periapical periodontitis develops gradually over time, but without showing any signs or symptoms. Eventually, it will cause some inflammation of tissue surrounding your teeth, which leads to that tissue’s destruction if not treated. Generally, a dentist can detect this in a general check-up before it gets too serious – which is why it’s important to regularly get your teeth checked out.
Symptomatic periapical periodontitis is different. With this type of the disease, you’ll feel an acute pain in your gums and tooth. It develops suddenly, and without treatment, gets worse much more rapidly. If you’re feeling pain when you bite down, it could indicate the beginning stages of symptomatic periapical periodontitis.
What Causes Periapical Periodontitis?
But what causes periapical periodontitis? Generally, this condition develops only after there has been another problem with a tooth, for example a cavity that doesn’t receive treatment or an infection in the pulp of the tooth. At other times, it can develop if you have an infection in the pulp of your tooth, or if that pulp has died. Sometimes even just injuries or simple trauma to a tooth can lead to a case of periapical periodontitis.
The Effects of Periapical Periodontitis
Without effective treatment from a dentist, periapical periodontitis will continue to cause painful swelling of the gums, loose teeth, complete loss of a tooth (which can then lead to the need for dental implants), and severe infections of the gum and soft tissue.
What to Do If You Think You Have Periapical Periodontitis
As we mentioned above, depending on whether your periapical periodontitis is asymptomatic or symptomatic, you might not notice any symptoms. If you notice pain in a tooth when you bite down or put pressure on it, you should book an appointment with your dentist.
For those of you who have a history of cavities or infections in your teeth, regular check-ups at the dentist are key. During a routine inspection, a dentist should be able to see any cases of asymptomatic inflammation and refer you for further treatment to quickly take care of any problems.
Treatments for Periapical Periodontitis
A dentist who specialises in the cause, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases of the teeth’s pulp are called endodontists. For any advanced treatment of periapical periodontitis, you might need to book a special appointment with one of these dentists.
If you’re lucky, a simple root canal will be all that’s needed to treat the periapical periodontitis and minimise the inflammation. This is when a dentist cleans away the inflamed or infected tissue around the root of a tooth. They’re no longer as scary as their reputation – today, it’s a modern procedure that’s simple and effective for the treatment of gum diseases.
If you’ve already had a root canal and the inflammation persists or crops up again, then you might need to have a treatment known as an apicoectomy. This is a little bit more involved than your regular root canal. The dentist (or endodontist) will remove the inflamed and infected tissue surrounding the tooth like in a root canal, but then continue and completely remove the root tip of your tooth as well. Afterwards, a filling will be placed to seal the end of the root.
As a last resort and for very serious cases of periapical periodontitis, a dentist might decide to completely remove the tooth that’s causing the problem.
You might also be wondering why antibiotics aren’t used to treat periapical periodontitis. So far, studies haven’t come up with evidence that treating periapical periodontitis with antibiotics is effective. One study conducted found only very low-quality evidence regarding the treatment of the disease with systemic antibiotics – insufficient to determine whether it has any effect or not.
If you believe something is going wrong with your teeth or gums, the best thing to do is book an appointment with the friendly team at NS Periodontics before jumping to any conclusions. They’ll be able to inspect any potential problems and recommend further treatment if necessary.