There are many periodontal diseases that may range from transient gum inflammation to serious disease that results in major damage to the soft tissue and bone that supports the teeth. Most commonly, gum disease develops when plaque is allowed to build up along and under the gum line and the host immune response is susceptible to the disease.
Mouth is always full of bacteria. These bacteria, along with mucus and other particles, constantly form a sticky, colorless “plaque” on teeth. Plaque that is not removed can harden and form “tartar” that routine tooth brushing does not get rid of. The longer plaque and tartar are present on teeth, the more harmful they become. The bacteria cause inflammation of the gums and that is called “gingivitis.” In gingivitis, the gums become red and swollen, and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with diligent daily brushing and flossing, and/or by professional dental scaling by a dentist or dental hygienist.
Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) may lead to a condition called “periodontitis” which means that there is inflammation around the tooth. In periodontitis, gums pull away from the teeth and form pockets that become infected. The body’s immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. When the immune status of the host is compromised and the effectiveness of the host response is reduced, bacterial toxins and their by-products to the infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If left untreated, the bones, gums and tissues that support the teeth can be deleteriously affected, leading to tooth/bone loss as a result.