Periodontitis (Gum Disease)


What is it and why is it a problem?
Are you at risk?
What are the interactions with other diseases?
What can you do to prevent gum disease? 

Periodontitis (Gum Disease)

What is periodontitis? Why is it a problem?

Periodontitis is the second most common disease of the oral cavity after dental caries. Unlike dental caries, which is decay of the tooth area, periodontitis or periodontal disease is an infection of the soft tissues and bone tissues that surround and support the tooth, by the formation of deep periodontal pockets. Periodontitis progresses slowly and painlessly.  Therefore, the early warning signs are easy to ignore. More than 50% of people over 35 years old suffer from periodontitis, without being aware of it.

What are the risks?

Periodontitis is caused by bacterial colonization of the gumline. The sticky film that constantly forms on your teeth is called plaque and is composed mostly of bacteria that produce toxins which can irritate and damage the supporting tissues of the teeth. The most common factors leading to periodontitis are:

  1. Poor oral hygiene.
  2. Defective fillings and bridges that do not fit properly; Non-professional root canal, and irregular bite.
  3. Smoking–People who smoke are more likely to have periodontal disease.
  4. Systematic diseases such as diabetes can lower your body’s resistance to infection making periodontal disease more likely.
  5. Genetic or hereditary factors can predispose an individual to periodontitis.
  6. Blood pressure and cholesterol
  7. Stress and contraceptives increase hormone levels that can cause gum tissue to be more          sensitive to the toxins and enzymes produced by bacteria.
  8. Researches have shown that people with periodontal disease are almost twice as likely to suffer from coronary artery disease as those without periodontal disease.

Interactions with other systematic diseases?

Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection. The same bacteria can enter the blood stream and travel to the major organs of the body where new and potentially more serious infections can start. Affected organs can include the heart, kidney, lungs and others.

Periodontitis increases the risk of complication even miscarried during pregnancy.

 Diabetes and periodontitis are reciprocal; diabetes can lower the body’s resistance to infection giving periodontitis a chance to set in.

A perfectly performed periodontal therapy may facilitate blood sugar control as well as improve other general health conditions like cardiovascular disease and stroke. Periodontal therapy always produces a positive impact on general health.

How can I tell if I have gum disease?

Periodontitis does not cause any pain and therefore can go undetected for a long time. Common symptoms of this disease include the following:

Bleeding gumsFluids ( Pus )between the teeth and the gum
Redness in the gums Wiggling or loose teeth
Tender  or swollen  gums that have
pulled away from the teeth
Change in the fit of dentures
HalitosisBad breath
Treatment and preventive care

After a professional oral hygiene, the next step in treating periodontitis usually involves a special cleaning by a dentist called scaling and root planning. This procedure removes plaque and tartar deposits on the root surfaces. The tooth roots also may be planed to smooth the root surface, allowing the gum tissue to heal and reattach to the tooth, free of infection. In some cases, the occlusion, or bite, may require adjustment.

You should get periodontal screening from a dentist once or twice a year. Aside from this, you should practice the following good habits to maintain dental health:

  • Optimal/Professional oral hygiene, if necessary several sessions
  • (Proper home care/ brushing)
  • Cleaning   interdentally space by using dental floss or interdentally brush
  • Mouthwashes can be used but does not replace the therapy or toothbrush
  • A regular follow up is essential.

Periodontitis gives few early warning signs and is not painful. The most beautiful tooth, the most expensive bridge as well as the most modern implant can be lost if the surrounding gum tissues are infected. That is why a periodontal screening by a dentist once or twice a year is essential to maintain dental health.