What is Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease (gum disease) are serious inflammatory gingival (gum) and bone disorders that, left untreated, can lead to loose teeth and their eventual loss.  The word periodontal means "around the tooth."  Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by bacterial plaque that affects both the gums and bone supporting the teeth.  Gingivitis and chronic periodontitis represent the most common forms of periodontal disease observed.  It is accepted that that the majority of periodontal disease is associated with an initial inflammatory reaction related to bacterial plaque, which may or may not progress to deeper levels of destruction.  Resembling other infections the presence of the periodontal pathogen is necessary to the development of disease, but it by itself is not sufficient.

The prevalence of gum disease among school children in the US has ranged from 40-60% and is comparable to the prevalence in adults.  


Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease and has the greatest prevalence. Signs and symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, and puffy gums that bleed easily.  At this stage, there is usually little or no discomfort felt by the patient and the disease can by identified by the appearance of the gum.  Gingivitis is most frequently the effect of inadequate oral hygiene.  Gingivitis is easily reversible with professional (hygiene) cleaning and improved oral home care.

Systemic and environment factors that contribute to gingivitis: 

  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Pregnancy
  • Substance abuse
  • HIV infection  
  • Stress
  • Inadequate nutrition 
  • Puberty
  • Certain medication use
  • Aging
  • Systemic diseases and conditions
Learn More An advance form of gingivitis with bone loss is classified as Periodontitis.

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