Periodontitis is an infection of the gums resulting in the destruction of supporting bone around the teeth. It can affect one or more teeth. Such as gingivitis, periodontitis is caused by the accumulation of bacteria (plaque) between the teeth and the gums.
The bacteria in plaque releases toxins into the gum that cause redness and swelling (inflammation). The inflammation and bacterial toxins combined, contribute to the destruction of the supporting tissues (gums and bone surrounding the teeth). When this happens, the gums pull away from the teeth thus creating a space, called periodontal pocket, that fill with more plaque causing even more infection. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed.
Untreated periodontitis can lead to a mobility of the tooth and may have to be removed. Several factors interfere in the severity and progression of periodontal disease such as smoking, hormonal changes, heredity, stress, lifestyle and systemic diseases.
Type of periodontitis
There are many forms of periodontitis. The most common ones include the following:
This is the most common form of periodontitis consisting in chronic inflammation of the tissues around the teeth. It is prevalent in adults, but can occur at any age. It usually gets worse slowly, but there can be periods of rapid progression.
This type of periodontitis includes rapid destruction of periodontal tissues which occurs in otherwise systematically healthy individuals of younger age. Several members of the same family are often affected, suggesting a strong hereditary component.
This type of periodontitis is a more advanced form in which the ligaments, bones and tissues surrounding the teeth begin to die off. It is most commonly observed in individuals with systemic conditions such as HIV infection, malnutrition and immunosuppression.