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Periodontitis (Periodontal Disease)

Untreated gingivitis can progress to the point where the gingival attachment fibers to tooth and bone are lost; and beyond that to the point where bone destruction results (Figure 1). This bacterial illness is called periodontal disease (or periodontitis), and is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults. It is also referred to as gum disease and by the antiquated term, pyorrhea.

Periodontal disease

Figure 1: Advanced periodontal disease. If more than 40% of the tooth-supporting (alveolar) bone has been destroyed by periodontal disease, the disease is considered severe, or advanced. Allowing the disease to progress to this point introduces significant general health risks.

Periodontitis is not curable, but it can be controlled indefinitely through treatment by a dental professional, excellent home care, and regular follow-up with a general dentist or periodontist. It is important to note that there is evidence that periodontal disease and certain systemic illnesses are related, and that treating periodontal disease in the dentist’s chair before it progresses may prevent expensive medical treatment and life-threatening illness.

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Author: Thomas J. Greany, D.D.S. / Editor: Ken Lambrecht

This page was last updated on November 29, 2017.

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