Periodontal (gum) diseases, including gingivitis and
periodontitis, are serious infections that, left untreated, can lead to tooth
loss. The word periodontal means "around the tooth." Periodontal
disease is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and bone
supporting the teeth.
Periodontal disease can have an effect on one tooth or many
teeth. It begins when the bacteria in plaque (the sticky, colorless film that
constantly forms on your teeth) causes the gums to become inflamed.
In the mildest form of the disease, gingivitis, the gums
redden, swell and bleed easily. There is on most occasions little or no
discomfort. Inadequate oral hygiene often causes gingivitis. Gingivitis is
reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can
spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in
plaque severely irritate the gums. The toxins stimulate the body to switch
on a chronic inflammatory response. This inflammation destroys the
tissues and bone that support the teeth. Gums separate from the teeth,
forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected.
As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone
are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms.
Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be extracted.
Types of Periodontal Disease
There are many forms of
periodontal disease. The most common ones include the following.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums
to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. There is usually little or no
discomfort at this stage. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment
and good at home oral care.
A form of periodontitis that occurs in patients who are otherwise clinically
healthy. Common features include rapid attachment loss and bone destruction and
A form of periodontal disease resulting in inflammation within the supporting
tissues of the teeth, progressive attachment and bone loss and is characterized
by pocket formation and/or recession of the gingiva. It is recognized as the
most frequently occurring form of periodontitis. It is prevalent in adults, but
can occur at any age. Progression of attachment loss usually occurs slowly, but
periods of rapid progression can occur.
Periodontitis as a Manifestation of Systemic Diseases
Periodontititis, often with onset at a young age, associated with one of
several systemic diseases, such as diabetes.
Necrotizing Periodontal Diseases
An infection characterized by necrosis of gingival tissues, periodontal
ligament and alveolar bone. These lesions are most commonly observed in
individuals with systemic conditions including, but not limited to, HIV
infection, malnutrition and immunosuppression.
Source: American Academy of Periodontology