Periodontitis is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. 45% of all adults are affected to some degree.


Chronic exposure of the periodontal tissues to bacterial plaque causes a chronic inflammation leading to:

  • Destruction of the periodontal ligament, loss of supporting bone, tooth loosening, and eventual tooth loss. Bone loss can be halted, but not reversed.
  • Smoking, diabetes, HIV, pregnancy, and poor oral hygiene all contribute to the development of periodontitis.

Preventive Measures & Treatment

  • Effective brushing and flossing and compliance with dental professional recommendations, possible referral to periodontist.
  • Cessation of tobacco and cannabis use.
  • Dental referral for deep root scaling (cleaning below the gum surface).
  • Initial dental therapy may be nonsurgical, such as deep root scaling (cleaning below the gum surface) and application of local chemotherapeutic agents (e.g. chlorhexidine).
  • Moderate to severe periodontitis treatment may include surgical procedures.

* Note that periodontitis and gingivitis are usually chronic diseases, but there are many forms, including some that are acute in onset. For example, trench mouth, or acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis (ANUG) is a non-contagious infection of the gums causing painful, bleeding gums, and ulcers.


Moderate Periodontal Disease

Efthimia Ioannidou DDS, MDS
Efthimia Ioannidou DDS, MDS

Severe Periodontal Disease

John McDowell, DDS
John McDowell, DDS


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Souto, MLS, Rovai, ES, Ganhito, JA, Holzhausen, M, Chambrone, L, Pannuti, CM. Efficacy of systemic antibiotics in nonsurgical periodontal therapy for diabetic subjects: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int Dent J. 2018.

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A Report of the Surgeon General: The Health Consequences of Smoking—50 Years of Progress. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD. 2014