by Amy Scholten, MPH
Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and possibly other problems.
Periodontitis is caused by untreated gingivitis. Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums due to plaque buildup on the teeth. Plaque is a filmy coating made from bacteria. Unless removed, plaque can get under the gums. Once there, plaque can create pockets around the teeth. Bacteria can collect in these pockets. This may cause ongoing inflammation. It may also damage tissues and bones that hold teeth in place.
Periodontitis is more common in people over 30 years old.
Other things that raise the risk are:
Periodontitis may not cause symptoms. Those that have symptoms may have:
The dentist will ask about symptoms and health history. A complete oral exam will be done. The exam will diagnose periodontal disease. The dentist may do x-rays to see how much damage has been done.
The goals are to remove plaque and prevent or treat infection. Treatment options depend on how severe the problem is.
If problems are severe, surgery may be needed. Surgery may also be done to repair damaged gum tissues and bones. Options are:
To risk of periodontitis can be lowered by:
Mouth Healthy—American Dental Association
Perio—American Academy of Periodontology
Canadian Dental Association
Public Health Agency of Canada
Gingivitis and periodontitis in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/gingivitis-and-periodontitis-in-adults. Accessed July 30, 2021.
Johnson TM. Smoking and periodontal disease. US Army Med Dep J. 2017;(3-17):67-70.
Periodontal (gum) disease: cause, symptoms, and treatment. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research website. Available at: https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/gum-disease/more-info. Accessed July 30, 2021.
Treatments. American Academy of Periodontology website. Available at: https://www.perio.org/consumer/periodontal-treatments-and-procedures. Accessed July 30, 2021.
Last reviewed July 2021 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Dan Ostrovsky, MD
Last Updated: 7/30/2021