Periodontal disease definition, Risks & Symptoms Explained

periodontal disease definition

Perio means around, dontal refers to the teeth. Periodontal diseases or gum disease is a pathological inflammatory condition of the gum and bone support surrounding the teeth. The disease affects the structures around the teeth, which include the gums, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. Swollen and persistent bleeding gums are the early signs that your gums are infected with bacteria. In more severe cases, periodontal disease can cause severe damages to the soft tissue and the bone that supports your teeth, it can cause the teeth to loosen or lead to tooth loss.

According to recent studies, it was discovered that half of Americans aged 30 and above have periodontitis, the more advanced form of periodontal disease. Periodontitis is a severe form of the disease, at this point of the disease, infection can spread and destroy the structures that support your teeth including your jawbone. If it’s not treated on time, your teeth can become so loose and may even fall out as a result of chronic destruction of the tissue that surrounds your teeth.

Stages Of Periodontal Disease

Well, periodontitis is common among older adults but it’s largely preventable. Progression of gum disease is influenced by a number of factors such as oral hygiene and genetic predisposition. There are two most common stages periodontal diseases. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of periodontal disease, at this point the infection affects the gums. Periodontitis is the more severe forms of the disease, it affects supporting bone and tissues surrounding the teeth.


In the early stage of periodontal disease, the gums become swollen and red due to inflammation, which is the body’s natural response to the presence of harmful bacteria. Gingivitis being the early stage of the disease, comes with inflammation of the gingival (gum) tissue, redness of the gum margins, swelling and bleeding on brushing. Although the gums may be irritated, but the teeth are still firmly planted in their sockets at this stage.

However, gingivitis occurs in both chronic and acute forms, it can be stopped in nearly all cases by effective personal oral hygiene practices. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to a chronic degenerative process which results in the loss of both gum tissues and bone surrounding the teeth.


Periodontal (Gum) disease is termed periodontitis as the disease progresses and destroys more gum tissue and bone. In the more serious form of periodontal disease, the gums pull away from the tooth and supporting gum tissues and bones are destroyed. Eventually, bone lost occurs, pockets or spaces between the tooth and gums deepens, the teeth may loosen and fall out. In addition, periodontitis is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults.

Symptoms Of Periodontal Disease

A healthy gums is firm and pale pink in color. A diseased or unhealthy gum can be difficult to detect at the early stage of the disease. Periodontal disease does not cause pain at the start and can progress unnoticed. In its early stages, frequent gums bleeding during brushing or flossing, bad breath, inflammation and redness of the gums are the common signs. As the disease and damages progreses, the bleeding may stop, the gums pull away from the tooth, the supporting bones and gum tissues are destroyed.

The symptoms of periodontal disease include: (1)

  • Gums recession: Gums pull away from the teeth, making the teeth to appear longer than normal.
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Red swollen or tender gums
  • Gums that bleed easily during and after tooth brushing or flossing.
  • Bright red, dusky red or purplish gums
  • Loose teeth and painful chewing
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste in the mouth
  • Formation of deep pockets between teeth and gums

Causes Of Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Bacterial and plaque buildup on the teeth and along the gum lines is the main cause of periodontal disease. Poor oral hygiene habits such as not brushing and flossing on a daily basis, make it easier for gingivitis to develop. Smoking and certain types of medications such as antidepressants, diuretics and high blood-pressure medications can increase your risk of gum disease. Also, people with leukemia, inflammatory bowel disease, HIV infection and diabetes are more likely to get periodontitis, than healthy people and it’s likely to be severe.

In addition, according to recent studies it was discovered that family history of dental disease can be a contributing factor for the development of periodontal disease. (2) It was shown that some people are susceptible to periodontal disease because of their genetic make-up.

Is Gum Disease Linked To Other Health Problems?

Studies have produced varying answers about the extent of the connection between gum disease and other medical problems. Some research have reported that the bacteria responsible for periodontitis can enter your bloodstream through gum tissues and lead to a number of other serious health problems. Although, the extent of this connections are quite unclear, but it’s dangerous if the bacteria in the mouth makes its way into the bloodstream.

Here are some of the systemic diseases that scientists have suggested that periodontal disease is connected to: (3)

  • Stroke: Gum disease may increase the risk of the type of stroke that is caused by blocked arteries.
  • Heart disease: Gum disease may increase the risk of clogged arteries and heart disease, although additional research is needed to understand this better.
  • Diabetes: People with diabetes and periodontal disease may be more likely to have trouble controlling their blood sugar than diabetics with healthy gums.
  • Respiratory disease : Gum disease may cause lung infections and worsen existing lung conditions when bacteria from the mouth reach the lungs.

Check here to – learn more about periodontal disease.

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