Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease is the inflammation and infection of the periodontal tissues, ligaments and bones that holds the teeth. Periodontal disease is caused by harmful bacteria which attacks the shallow v-shaped crevice called sulcus under the gum.
The disease damages the sulcus which results in the pocket formation in between the teeth and the gums. The depth of the pocket depends on the degree of the infection. Formation of the pockets in the gums and teeth allows accumulation of plague and food particles.
Periodontal disease affects the following periodontal tissues-
- Periodontal ligaments
- Alveolar bone (tooth socket bones)
Periodontal diseases are classified into two types-
Gingivitis is a milder form of periodontal diseases which causes red, swollen and inflamed gums. It is the primary stage where the gums are inflamed by the infectious bacteria. The initial symptom of gingivitis is bleeding gums during brushing or flossing. Gingivitis is usually painless and this keeps the patient unaware of having it. This disease can be reverse with proper oral hygiene like regular brushing, flossing and cleaning.
Periodontitis is the advanced stage of gingivitis. When gingivitis is left untreated for a long period of time, it can progress to a serious periodontal disease called as periodontitis. The bacteria that previously infected the gums form a plague and releases toxins. These toxins elicit the immune response of the body to eliminate the bacteria. The inflammatory response in turn attacks on itself and damages the tissues and bones that support the teeth. Hence, the bones and tissues are destroyed and broken down and cause a gum to separate from the teeth (forming pockets).
- With the progression of the disease there is more deepening of the pockets and bones and gum tissues are increasingly destroyed. This can finally result in the loss of teeth or the teeth may have to be removed.
After knowing what is a periodontal disease, you should know that there are several forms of periodontal diseases which include-
- Aggressive periodontal disease (periodontitis): It occurs in healthy patients. Features are speedy loss of attachment and tooth bone damage.
- Chronic periodontal disease (periodontitis): It is the commonly occurring periodontitis (inflammation) which is characterized by a formation of the pockets. Causes rapid progression and fast attachment loss.
- Periodontitis occurring due to systemic disorders: Such periodontal disease occurs in patients with health problems such as diabetes, heart disease etc.
- Acute necrotizing ulceration periodontitis: This is a serious infection of the periodontal tissues, ligaments and alveolar bone. It causes ulcerations of the gums and mouth. Prevalence is seen among patients with suppressed immune systems like HIV infection, patient under immune therapy etc.
What is a periodontal disease risk factors?
Risk factors increase the probability of a person from acquiring the disease. These may include-
- Excessive tobacco chewing or smoking
- Systemic ailments like HIV, diabetes. Heart ailments
- Medications such as cancer therapy drugs, steroids, oral contraceptives, anti-epileptics and chemotherapy drugs
- Crooked or broken teeth, improper bridges, faulty fillings
- Mental stress and tensions
- Malnutrition and poor diet
What is a periodontal disease symptom?
Periodontal disease symptoms may include-
- Sensitive, swollen, inflamed gums that bleeds easily with slight pressure
- Gums that are red and puffy, tender or soft
- Receding of the gums from the teeth
- Persistent Halitosis
- Loosening or shifting of the permanent teeth
- Change in the position of the dentures
Periodontal diseases can be prevented with good oral habits- brushing, flossing and rinsing of the mouth daily after meals. Always maintain a good diet and follow regular check-up for any sign of periodontal disease. Any gum disease must be treated early to stop its progression to serious periodontitis.