There is no way to accurately predict exactly how long periodontitis will last. Periodontitis is more severe form of gum disuse in which the tissues under the gum line become infected with bacteria, and the gums start pulling away from the teeth. While gingivitis, a less severe form of gum disease, may last for weeks or months and then improve with better brushing and flossing habits, periodontitis is harder to treat. This is because the bacteria have damaged the gum tissue and often have also started damaging the bone that supports the teeth and gums.
Even though there is no way to know how long periodontitis will last, there are ways to help control its progress and reduce the risk of tooth loss. These include:
- scaling, which is a deep-cleaning technique that involves scraping tartar (caused by bacterial plaque build-up) off the teeth, both above and below the gum line
- root planing, another deep-cleaning technique in which the dentist or hygienist removes areas on the tooth root that are more likely to attract bacteria
- laser removal of bacterial plaque and tartar
- medicines to reduce the size of the pockets (the spaces where the gum tissue has started separating from the teeth)
- surgery to clean out pockets (called flap surgery)
- surgery to encourage bone growth and gum tissue regeneration (called bone and tissue grafting)