Gum disease is a major cause of tooth decay and loss and is believed to be associated with several other chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Gum disease if remain untreated can consequently lead to tooth loss and other serious health problems. Gum disease is of following types.
Gingivitis is the most moderate form of gum disease. Gums become red and swollen and bleed easily in this disease. At this stage, there is only a little and sometimes even no discomfort. Gingivitis is usually the result of poor oral hygiene. It can be reversed with professional treatment as well as good oral care at home.
When gingivitis remains untreated it can result further into periodontitis. In the course of time, if proper oral hygiene is not employed, plaque can spread to grow below the gum line. Plaque is the home to bacteria, which produce toxins which in turn irritate gums. A chronic inflammatory response is stimulated by these toxins, due to which the supporting tissues and bones of the teeth start breaking down and are destroyed. Gums are separated from teeth forming pockets in which bacteria proliferate. With the progression of the disease, these pockets deepen and more and more gum tissue and bones are destroyed. Usually, this destruction process show very mild symptoms. Consequently teeth become loosened and may have to be extracted.
Periodontitis again has following main types.
Aggressive Periodontitis – This takes place in patients who have an otherwise good overall health. Common symptoms include rapid detachment and bone damage and familial aggregation.
Chronic Periodontitis – This causes inflammation inside the supporting tissues of teeth, progressive detachment and bone loss. It is the commonest form of periodontitis and is distinguished by pocket development and/or recession of gingiva. It is common in adults but can take place at any age. Detachment occurs slowly, but it can appear fast too.
Periodontitis as a Symptom of Systemic Diseases – This usually starts at a younger age. Systemic conditions like cardiac disease, respiratory disease and diabetes are related to this type of periodontitis.
Necrotizing Periodontal Disease – This is an infection characteristically showing death (necrosis) of periodontal ligament, gingival tissues and alveolar bone. The lesions are most commonly seen in persons with systemic conditions like HIV infection, immunosuppression and malnutrition.
Gum disease is treated by periodontists. They have to take up about three additional years of specialization in periodontal (gum) disease treatment both in non-surgical treatment and periodontal plastic surgery. Periodontists are proficient even in replacing teeth with implants.