What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal Disease - Cannot be cured, but can be maintained!

The term “periodontal”means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition which affects the supporting and surrounding bone and soft tissues of the tooth.

Periodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. When left untreated, gingivitis can spread below the gum line. When the gums become irritated by the toxins contained in plaque, a chronic inflammatory response causes the body to break down and destroy its own bone and soft tissue. There may be little or no symptoms as periodontal disease causes the gums to separate from the teeth as deep pockets. Deepening pockets between the gums and teeth indicate that soft tissue and bone is being destroyed by periodontal disease. Some signs are bleeding when brushing and/or flossing, shifting of teeth and halitosis (bad breath).

Periodontal disease, if left untreated, can lead to eventually tooth loss. It is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.

Types of Periodontal Disease

  • Chronic periodontitis – Inflammation within supporting tissues causes deep pockets and gum recession. It may appear the teeth are lengthening, but in actuality, the gums (gingiva) are receding. This is the most common form of periodontal disease and is characterized by progressive loss of bone.
  • Aggressive periodontitis – This form of gum disease occurs in an otherwise clinically healthy individual. It is characterized by rapid loss of gum attachment, chronic bone destruction and is typically noted in families.

  • Necrotizing periodontitis – This form of periodontal disease most often occurs in individuals suffering from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression and malnutrition. Necrosis (tissue death) occurs in the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingival tissues.

  • Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – This form of gum disease often begins at an early age. Medical condition such as respiratory disease, diabetes and heart disease are common cofactors.

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