Periodontitis, also called gum disease, is a serious gum infection that damages soft tissue and, without treatment, can destroy the bone that supports the teeth. Periodontitis can cause teeth to become loose or cause tooth loss. Periodontitis is common, but largely preventable. Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues that hold the teeth in place.
It's usually caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, to build up on the teeth and harden. In advanced stages, periodontal disease can cause gum pain and bleeding, painful chewing problems, and even tooth loss. It is a chronic inflammatory disease that is triggered by bacterial microorganisms and involves serious chronic inflammation that causes the destruction of the tooth support apparatus and can cause tooth loss. It can also cause other health problems.
During pregnancy, increased hormone levels can affect how the body reacts to dental plaque, which can lead to inflammation and bleeding of the gums (gingivitis) and a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis. The best way to prevent periodontitis is to have regular dental cleanings and practice good oral hygiene at home between visits. The dentist or dental hygienist will use a special probe (called a periodontal probe) and will measure the depth of penetration into the gumline gently and accurately at various sites in the mouth. The simple message is that periodontitis is always caused by the accumulation of bacteria in the form of dental plaque.
On every x-ray taken in the dental office, the teeth should be examined for tooth decay and periodontitis. Nadeem Karimbux, DMD, assistant dean of the dental education office at Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Boston.