Periodontitis is a severe and chronic form of gum disease. Periodontitis causes inflammation of the gums and destruction of the bones in the mouth that can eventually lead to the loss of teeth if not treated.
Periodontitis means “inflammation around the teeth.” It is a serious but common and preventable condition.
The American Dental Association estimates chronic periodontitis affects 47.2% of the U.S. population aged 30 years or older.
Periodontitis is caused by poor oral hygiene, and can affect anyone. It is more common as people age, and years of poor brushing and flossing and untreated gingivitis take a toll.
Periodontitis is uncommon in individuals younger than 30. It affects men more often than women. Some risk factors can increase an individual’s chance of getting periodontitis. These include:
Periodontitis results when gingivitis is not treated.
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque and tartar on the teeth. Gingivitis is noticeable because the gums become swollen and bleed. However, gingivitis can be reversed with regular brushing, flossing, and dental care. If untreated, gingivitis can lead to periodontitis.
In periodontitis, the gums become so inflamed that pockets of open space develop between the tissue and teeth. Infections can develop in these spaces as bacteria flourishes. The body’s immune system then begins to fight the bacteria as plaque grows below the gum line. This eventually leads to the breakdown of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.
Symptoms of periodontitis include:
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should see your dental care provider.
Your dentist will begin an examination for gum disease by examing your gums for inflammation. He or she may use a probe ruler to check for pockets around the teeth. These should not be any bigger than 3 millimeters.
Your dentist may also take an X-ray to check for bone loss. You may be advised to see a specialist in gum diseases known as a periodontist.
Treatment for periodontitis depends on the severity of the condition. Treatments include the following:
In severe cases of periodontitis, surgery may be necessary to help save the teeth. Types of surgery include:
Your periodontist will advise you on the best course of treatment for your periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a preventable condition. The following can help prevent gum disease:
Periodontitis is a serious condition that can lead to permanent tooth loss. It is important to see your dentist if you are experiencing symptoms of gum diseases. Prompt dental attention can stop the progress of periodontitis.
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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 10/05/2017