Periodontal Disease

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal diseases are chronic infections of the gums in which a disease-causing bacterial film develops on the root surfaces of the teeth.  The two major types of periodontal disease are gingivitis and periodontitis.   There are several types of periodontitis, including chronic periodontitis, agressive periodontitis, and periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases such as  heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is frequently caused by inadequate oral hygiene.  Factors contributing to gingivitis include smoking, diabetes, aging, stress, inadequate nutrition, puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV infection, and some medications.   Gingivitis is characterized by red, swollen, and bleeding gums.  It is reversible by professional care and proper oral hygiene.

Periodontitis

In chronic periodontitis, a bacterial film develops on the root surfaces of the teeth.  Toxins produced by the bacteria in the film stimulate the body’s immune system, and produce a chronic inflammatory response.  This immune response causes deterioration of the periodontal ligament, the connective tissue attachment of the teeth to the surrounding jawbone, and of the bone itself.  Chronic periodontitis is classified as mild, moderate, or severe.  In the US population, the prevalence of moderate and severe periodontitis is reported to be 30% and 8.5% respectively.

Symptoms of chronic periodontitis are often mild, and may include red, swollen, or tender gums, bleeding during brushing or flossing, loose or separating teeth, bad breath, or a change in thew way your teeth fit together.  For more information, please visit the website of the American Academy of Periodontology, patient information section, www.perio.org/consumer.