What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?

Periodontal disease (also called periodontitis and gum disease) is a terribly common inflammatory condition that attacks the soft tissues and bone around the teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss and other systemic problems. In fact, this disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults, and should be treated as soon as possible.

Periodontal disease is usually preceded by gingivitis, a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. This infection happens when the toxins in the plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gums. When this happens, a chronic inflammatory response causes the body to break down and destroy its own bone and soft tissue.

Gum disease is a progressive condition, meaning that it starts small but can lead to the destruction of the connective tissues in your mouth as well as the jawbone. Unfortunately, since there may be little to no symptoms as the disease progresses, many people never notice what is happening until the teeth start to separate from the infected gum tissue. It’s important to watch for symptoms and

If it goes untreated, your teeth can shift out of place, come loose, or completely fall out.

Know the Types of Periodontal Disease

Some of the most common types of periodontal disease include:

  • Chronic periodontitis – This is an inflammation in the supporting tissues that causes deep pockets and gum recession. You may think that your teeth are lengthening, but the truth is your gums are receding. This is the most common type of gum disease, and its symptoms include a progressive loss of attachment combined with periods of rapid progression.
  • Aggressive periodontitis – This form of gum disease most often happens in otherwise clinically healthy individuals. It leads to rapid loss of gum attachment, chronic bone destruction, and familial aggregation.
  • Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – This form of gum disease often begins at an early age because of a medical condition such as respiratory disease, diabetes, or heart disease.
  • Necrotizing periodontitis – This most often occurs in people suffering from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression and malnutrition. The necrosis, or tissue death, occurs in the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingival tissues.

You can learn more about these types of periodontal diseases and their treatments.

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