Pyorrhea – gum disease; Inflammation of gums – involving bone
Definition of Periodontitis
Periodontitis is inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Periodontitis occurs when inflammation or infection of the gums () is untreated or treatment is delayed. Infection and inflammation spreads from the gums (gingiva) to the ligaments and bone that support the teeth. Loss of support causes the teeth to become loose and eventually fall out. Periodontitis is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults. This disorder is uncommon in childhood but increases during adolescence.
Signs and tests
Examination of the mouth and teeth by the dentist shows soft, swollen, red-purple gums. Deposits of plaque and calculus may be visible at the base of the teeth, with enlarged pockets in the gums. The gums are usually painless or mildly tender, unless a tooth abscess is also present. Teeth may be loose and gums may be receded.
The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation, eliminate pockets if present, and address any underlying causes. Rough surfaces of teeth or dental appliances should be repaired. General illness or other conditions should be treated.
Some people find the removal of dental plaque from inflamed gums to be uncomfortable. Bleeding and tenderness of the gums should go away within 1 or 2 weeks of treatment. (Healthy gums are pink and firm in appearance.)
Jack D. Rosenberg, DDS, Advanced Dental Care, Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, M.D., MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc. – 2/22/2010