Periodontitis occurs when inflammation or infection of the gums (gingivitis) is untreated or treatment is delayed. Infection and inflammation spreads from the gums (gingiva) to the ligaments and bone that support the teeth. Loss of support causes the teeth to become loose and eventually fall out. Periodontitis is the primary cause of tooth loss in adults. This disorder is uncommon in childhood but increases during adolescence.
Plaque and tartar build up at the base of the teeth. Inflammation causes a pocket to develop between the gums and the teeth, which fills with plaque and tartar. Soft tissue swelling traps the plaque in the pocket. Continued inflammation leads to damage of the tissues and bone surrounding the tooth. Because plaque contains bacteria, infection is likely and a tooth abscess may also develop, which increases the rate of bone destruction.
Gums that appear bright red or red-purple
Gums that appear shiny
Gums that bleed easily (blood on toothbrush even with gentle brushing of the teeth)
Gums that are tender when touched but are painless otherwise
Additional research is called for and patients with moderate to severe periodontitis should receive evaluation and possible treatment to reduce their risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD), according to a special consensus paper by editors of The American Journal of Cardiology and Journal of Peridontology in the July 1, 2009 issue of The American Journal of Cardiology, published by Elsevier.
Periodontitis, a bacterially-induced, localized, chronic inflammatory disease, destroys connective tissue and bone that support the teeth. Periodontitis is common, with mild to moderate forms affecting 30 to 50% of adults and the severe generalized form affecting 5 to 15% of all adults in the USA. In addition, there is now strong evidence that people with periodontitis are at increased risk of atherosclerotic CVD - the accumulation of lipid products within the arterial vascular wall.
The explanation for the link between periodontitis and atherosclerotic CVD is not yet clear, but a leading candidate is inflammation caused by the immune system. In recent years the inflammation is now recognized as a significant active participant in many chronic diseases. Other explanations for periodontitis and atherosclerotic CVD are common risk factors such as smoking, diabetes mellitus, genetics, mental anxiety, depression, obesity, and physical inactivity.
Regardless of the cause, the expert panel believes that the current evidence is strong enough to recommend that doctors assess atherosclerotic CVD in their patients with periodontitis. The research recommends that patients with moderate to severe periodontitis should be informed that there may be an increased risk of atherosclerotic CVD associated with periodontitis, and those patients with one or more known major risk factor for atherosclerotic CVD should consider a medical evaluation if they have not done so in the past 12 months.