About Gum Disease - Periodontitis

Periodontitis Overview

Gum disease, also called periodontitis, occurs when a bacterial infection develops where the gums join the teeth. Symptoms may include red, swollen and bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, and tooth sensitivity.

Harmful bacteria assemble in a complex structure called biofilm and release enzymes that cause inflammation of the periodontal tissue. If left untreated, this inflammatory response can cause receding gums and bone loss, destroying the supporting structures that anchor the teeth, which may ultimately lead to tooth loss.

Bacteria associated with periodontal diseases can travel into the bloodstream and may result in other adverse health effects. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, infected orthopedic implants and preterm births. This makes early detection and proper treatment of periodontal diseases critical to overall good health.

Key Facts of Gum Disease

  • Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection often characterized by red, swollen gums that may bleed easily
  • Periodontal disease is the #1 cause of tooth loss in adults
  • More than half of people over age 30 have some form of periodontal disease
  • Periodontal disease can be painless and may go undetected
  • Oral health plays an important role in total body health
  • Bacteria associated with periodontal disease can travel into the bloodstream and may result in other adverse health effects. Early detection of periodontal disease is critical to maintaining overall health
  • Regular dental visits and annual periodontal assessments (including measuring probe readings) are key components of high-quality oral care and your overall health

Stages of Gum Disease

HEALTHY GUMS

Firm, pink gum tissue that does not bleed when probed, flossed or brushed. There is no loss of connective tissue or bone structure.

GINGIVITIS

Red, swollen gum tissue bleeds when probed, brushed or flossed. There is a potential loss of connective tissue but no bone loss.
 

MILD CHRONIC PERIODONTITIS

Red, swollen gum tissue bleeds when probed, brushed or flossed. Pocket formation and gum recession occurs. Bacterial biofilm and the body’s immune response result in loss of connective tissue attachment and bone support for teeth.

ADVANCED CHRONIC PERIODONTITIS

Heavy bleeding when flossed, brushed, or probed. Severe loss of connective tissue attachment and very deep pockets form. Significant destruction of bone support leading to tooth mobility, tooth migration, pus and possible tooth loss.