Periodontal Disease (also known as "periodontal infection", "gum
disease" or "pyorrhea") is an ongoing bacterial infection
in the gums and bone that support your teeth. This infection leads
to an inflammation under the gums, and if not treated, this inflammation
can destroy the bone around your teeth. This results in tooth loss.
75% of all adult tooth loss is due to periodontal inflammation.
How Does An "Ongoing Infection" Work?
When you were a child, did you ever get a bad scrape that got all
red and swollen? That was caused by bacteria that got under your
skin. The area then became infected. It may have lasted
for days or weeks, but eventually the infection went away. The inflammation
disappeared when your immune system conquered the bacteria and the
With an ONGOING infection, your immune system never wins the battle.
The infection keeps growing and the inflammation never goes away.
Periodontal disease is an ongoing infection in the pockets around
your teeth. Your immune system is losing the battle and, without
treatment, it will get worse.
What Can Cause a "Burst" of Infection
People with periodontal disease show a weakened resistance to periodontal
bacteria. This causes an ongoing gum infection that grows in "bursts" of
activity. Each time it grows, more support for your teeth is lost.
Some factors that can cause a "burst" of activity are:
Getting Periodontal Infection Treated Right Away
- Poor oral hygiene
- Dental plaque
- Genetic factors
- Stress or tension
When your infection has a burst of activity, or when there are signs
that this is about to occur, your general dentist may recommend you
see a periodontist.
Symptoms of Periodontal Infection
Periodontal infection is usually painless until it reaches an advanced
stage. However, there are some symptoms that can indicate the presence
of periodontal infection.
Symptoms of Advanced Periodontal Disease:
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding when brushing (pink toothbrush), or at other times
itchy, sore or tender gums
- Receding gums (teeth beginning to
- Bad breath
- Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you
- Loose, separating or protruding teeth
- Spaces between teeth
If you notice any of the above warning signs of periodontal infection,
please contact your general dentist and ask for a periodontal evaluation.
Important Note: Your gums can look and feel quite normal and yet
deep pockets of periodontal infection can still be present. To be
certain about any periodontal disease, ask your dentist or periodontist
to examine your gums for signs of infection.
Who is a Periodontist?
Your general dentist is trained to detect and treat the early stages
of periodontal disease. A periodontist is a dentist with advanced
training in the diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease. Periodontists
also provide other treatments, such as crown lengthening and dental
implant placement (see the Procedures Section ).