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What is Periodontitis?

Updated: Dec 18, 2018

Periodontitis means "inflammation around the tooth".  This is a serious gum infection that damages the soft tissue and bone that supports and holds the tooth in place.

With periodontitis, the alveolar bone (the part of the bone that is around the tooth socket ) is slowly and gradually lost. Bacteria sticks to the surface of the tooth and multiplies - an overactive immune system reacts with inflammation. Bacterial plaque is a sticky, clear film that develops over the surface of teeth, and is the most common cause of periodontal disease.

If left untreated, periodontitis will eventually cause your teeth to fall out.  It may also increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and other health problems.

But isn’t this the same as Gingivitis? No.  Gingivitis occurs before periodontitis.

Gingivitis usually refers to inflammation of the gums while periodontitis refers to gum disease and the destruction of tissue and/or bone.

Untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis.

Signs and symptoms of possible Periodontitis can include:

  • Inflamed (swollen) gums, gum swelling recurs

  • Gums are bright red in colour, sometimes purple

  • Gums are sore to the touch

  • Gums recede, making teeth look longer

  • Extra spaces appear between the teeth

  • Pus may appear between the teeth and gums

  • Bleeding when brushing teeth

  • Bleeding when flossing

  • Metallic taste in the mouth

  • Halitosis (bad breath)Loose teeth

  • The patient's "bite" feels different because the teeth do not fit the same.

There are a number of contributing risk factors;

  • Smoking.  Regular smokers are much more likely to develop gum problems.

  • Hormonal changes in females.  Puberty, pregnancy, and the menopause causes a female's hormones to undergo changes. These changes increase the risk of developing gum disease.

  • Diabetes.  Patients who live with diabetes have a much higher incidence of gum disease than other individuals of the same age

  • Immuno-comprising diseases such as AIDS and Cancer can make gum disease more of a problem.

  • Some drugs.  Some medications that reduce saliva are linked to gum disease risk.

  • Genetics - some people are more genetically susceptible to gum diseases.

What are the treatment options for periodontitis?

The main aim of the periodontist, dentist or dental hygienist, when treating periodontitis, is to clean out bacteria from the pockets around the teeth and prevent further damage to the bone and tissue.

The patient must maintain good oral hygiene and care. This involves brushing teeth at least twice a day and flossing once per day.

It is important that the patient understands that periodontitis is a chronic (long-term) inflammatory disease - this means oral hygiene must be maintained for life. This will also involve regular visits to a dentist or dental hygienist.

For more information on oral health, visit our website,

For further information or advice contact College Street Dental Centre in Petersfield, Hampshire on 01730 263180


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