Periodontal Disease

‘Periodontal’ comes from two Greek words that mean ‘around the tooth.’ It is a series of changes that are associated with the inflammation and loss of the deep supporting structures of teeth including gingiva, cementum, periodontal ligament, and alveolar bone. When compared to gingivitis, periodontitis indicates bone loss.

It is caused by food particles and bacteria collecting along the gumline to form plaque. If plaque is not removed, minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque and form tartar (or calculus) which adheres strongly to the teeth. This is irritating to the gums and causes an inflammation called gingivitis, which can be seen as reddening of the gums adjacent to the teeth. It also causes bad breath.

If the calculus is not removed, it builds up under the gums and separates the gums from the teeth to form “pockets” encouraging more bacterial growth. At this point the damage is irreversible, and called “periodontal” disease. It can be very painful and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection.

Signs and Symptoms

Grade 1  Inflammation
Grade 2  Inflammation, edema, gingival bleeding upon probing
Grade 3  Inflammation, edema, gingival bleeding upon probing, pustular discharge — slight to moderate bone loss
Grade 4  Inflammation, edema, gingival bleeding upon probing, pustular discharge, mobility — severe bone loss

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