Periodontal Diseases

Written by Christa Gatewood
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The two most common types of periodontal disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. Of these, gingivitis is the most common. Everyone is familiar with the advertisements for toothpastes and mouthwashes that claim to prevent gingivitis. Ironically, however, the majority of Americans have gingivitis, but many of them simply don't know it yet.

Types of Periodontal Disease

Gingivitis is caused by bacteria in plaque. It makes the gums red, swollen, and vulnerable to bleeding. While sometimes gums can become sensitive and/or sore due to gingivitis, there is often little or no discomfort at this level of periodontal disease. Relatively speaking, gingivitis is a mild condition. It can be reversed with regular cleanings and good home care.

If gingivitis is not treated, however, a more severe form of periodontal disease can develop. This is called periodontitis. There are a number of different forms of periodontitis. The most common form is chronic periodontitis. This is caused by a progression of gingivitis and is characterized by inflammation of the gums, recession of the gums, periodontal pocket formation, bone loss, and tooth loss. Typically, the symptoms progress slowly allowing a large window to receive help from a dental professional.

Periodontal disease can also be associated with other systematic diseases like diabetes, so it is important to consult a health professional in addition to improving home dental care. The most extreme periodontal disease, necrotizing periodontal disease, can cause lesions on the gums and kill gum tissue. This form of the disease is most commonly the result of malnutrition, the HIV virus, or immunosuppression of some kind.


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