Understanding Periodontitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Prevention.

Periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease, is characterized by inflammation and infection of the supporting structures of the teeth, including the gums and bone, and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.

Understanding Periodontitis


Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease that results in the destruction of the supporting structures of the teeth, including bone, ligaments, and gum tissue.


Periodontitis typically follows untreated gingivitis, where the inflammation and infection have spread and become more severe.

Causes of Periodontitis

Gingivitis Progression:

Most cases of periodontitis begin as untreated gingivitis, where plaque and bacteria continue to irritate and damage the gums.

Host Response:

The body's immune response to the bacterial infection can lead to collateral damage, including inflammation and tissue destruction.

Risk Factors:

Smoking, diabetes, genetic factors, hormonal changes, and certain medications can increase the risk of periodontitis.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontitis

Pocket Formation:

Pockets or gaps between the teeth and gums may develop as the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth.

Tooth Mobility:

Teeth may become loose and mobile as the bone supporting them is lost.

Gum Recession:

The gums may recede, making teeth appear longer.

Bleeding and Pain:

Gums may bleed easily, and individuals may experience pain and discomfort.

Treatment for Periodontitis

Scaling and Root Planing:

This deep cleaning procedure removes plaque and tartar from the teeth and root surfaces, helping to eliminate pockets and reduce inflammation.


Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to control infection and inflammation.

Surgical Procedures:

In advanced cases, surgical treatments like flap surgery, bone grafts, and tissue regeneration may be necessary to repair and regenerate damaged tissues.

Ongoing Maintenance:

After treatment, individuals with periodontitis will require regular follow-up visits with their dentist or periodontist for ongoing care and monitoring.

Complications of Periodontitis

Tooth Loss:

Without treatment, periodontitis can lead to tooth mobility and loss.

Systemic Health Implications:

Emerging research suggests that periodontitis may be linked to systemic health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and complications during pregnancy.

Frequently Asked Questions about Periodontitis

1. What is periodontitis?

Answer: Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and destroys the bone that supports your teeth, potentially leading to tooth loss.

2. What causes periodontitis?

Answer: It's primarily caused by poor oral hygiene, leading to plaque buildup, which can turn into tartar and infect the gums.

3. What are the symptoms of periodontitis?

Answer: Symptoms include swollen, red, bleeding gums, bad breath, painful chewing, loose teeth, and gum recession.

4. Is periodontitis curable?

Answer: While it's not curable, periodontitis can be managed effectively with proper dental care and oral hygiene practices.

5. How is periodontitis treated?

Answer: Treatment may involve deep cleaning (scaling and root planing), medications, and sometimes surgical interventions to restore supportive tissues.

6. Can periodontitis cause tooth loss?

Answer: Yes, without treatment, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss due to the destruction of the supporting bone and tissues.

7. Is periodontitis contagious?

Answer: Periodontitis itself isn't contagious, but the bacteria causing the infection can be transferred through saliva.

8. How can I prevent periodontitis?

Answer: Good oral hygiene, including brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and regular dental check-ups, can prevent periodontitis.

9. What is the difference between gingivitis and periodontitis?

Answer: Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, affecting only the gums, while periodontitis includes bone and tissue destruction.

10. Can smoking cause periodontitis?

Answer: Yes, smoking is a significant risk factor for periodontitis, as it affects the body's immune response to bacterial infection in the gums.

11. Are there different stages of periodontitis?

Answer: Yes, periodontitis ranges from mild to advanced, depending on the extent of gum inflammation, bone loss, and tooth mobility.

12. Can periodontitis affect overall health?

Answer: Yes, periodontitis has been linked to systemic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory conditions.

13. How is periodontitis diagnosed?

Answer: Dentists diagnose periodontitis using dental exams, measuring pocket depths around teeth, dental x-rays, and reviewing medical history.

14. Can periodontitis be reversed?

Answer: The damage from periodontitis can't be reversed, but with proper treatment, its progression can be halted.

15. What are periodontal pockets?

Answer: Periodontal pockets are spaces that form between the teeth and gums, where bacteria can collect and cause infection.

16. How often should I visit the dentist if I have periodontitis?

Answer: Depending on the severity, your dentist might recommend visits every 3 to 4 months for cleaning and monitoring.

17. Can diet affect periodontitis?

Answer: Yes, a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals can support gum health and resistance to periodontitis.

18. What is aggressive periodontitis?

Answer: Aggressive periodontitis is a rapid form of periodontitis that occurs in patients who are otherwise clinically healthy, leading to severe bone and tooth loss at a young age.

19. Can children get periodontitis?

Answer: Yes, while less common, children can develop periodontitis, particularly in the form of aggressive periodontitis.

20. How does pregnancy affect periodontitis?

Answer: Pregnancy can increase the risk of developing periodontitis due to hormonal changes affecting gum tissue.

21. Can periodontitis cause bad breath?

Answer: Yes, the bacteria involved in periodontitis can produce odors, leading to persistent bad breath (halitosis).

22. What are systemic risk factors for periodontitis?

Answer: Systemic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and certain genetic predispositions can increase the risk of developing periodontitis.

23. Can stress affect periodontitis?

Answer: Yes, stress can weaken the immune system, making it harder to fight off the bacteria that cause gum infections.

24. What surgical treatments are available for periodontitis?

Answer: Surgical options include flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery), bone grafts, soft tissue grafts, and guided tissue regeneration.

25. Can periodontitis recur after treatment?

Answer: Yes, without ongoing maintenance and good oral hygiene, periodontitis can recur, highlighting the importance of regular dental care and lifestyle modifications.