The term “periodontal” literally means “around the tooth.” Periodontal disease (sometimes called periodontitis or just “gum disease”) is an inflammatory condition which attacks the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the gums, teeth, and (in advanced cases) even of the jawbones.
Periodontal disease is usually preceded by gingivitis. This is a bacterial infection of the gum tissues. Bacterial infections are able to penetrate the gums when the toxins produced in plaque irritate and cause inflammation of the gum tissues. If this bacterial infection succeeds in colonizing in the gum pockets between the teeth, it can be very difficult to remove and treat.
Periodontal disease is a progressive condition, and if left uncontrolled, it will eventually lead to the destruction of the connective tissue holding the teeth in place. In severe cases, it can even result in destruction the jawbone. When allowed to progress, it may result in teeth shifting their location, becoming loose, and eventually the affected tooth will be lost.
Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults in much of the world, and has been linked with other “non-dental” health issues, as well. It should ALWAYS be treated promptly.
If not properly treated, gingivitis (mild inflammation of the gums) can spread below the gum line. When this occurs, the gums become irritated by the toxins that are contained / produced in plaque, resulting in a chronic inflammatory response. This inflammation can actually cause the body to attack and destroy its own soft tissue and bone. In the early stages, the patient may detect little or no symptoms, even while periodontal disease is causing the teeth to separate from infected gum tissue. An early sign of gingivitis is deepening pockets between the gums and teeth. Such separation and deepening of the sulcus (pocket) is generally evidence that soft tissue and bone is being destroyed by periodontal disease – but unless it is detected during a regular dental check-up, it may go undetected until serious damage has occurred.
The following list constitutes several of the most common forms of periodontal disease:
There are various surgical and nonsurgical treatments from which the periodontist may choose, depending upon evaluation of the condition of teeth, gums and jawbone. Before any treatment can be recommended or performed, it is essential that a complete periodontal exam of the mouth be conducted.
The following list describes some of the more common treatments for periodontal disease:
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