What does the word “periodontitis” mean?
It is made up of three words:
‘perio’ = around
‘odont’ = tooth
‘itis’ = inflammation
Periodontitis (or paradontitis) is the disease of the parodontium that protects the most sensitive parts of the tooth.
The parodontium is the collective word for the parts that are responsible for stabilizing the teeth in the tooth socket. These parts are the periodontal fiber, cement, tooth socket and the gum.
It is the second most common dental disease after tooth decay. In the US 30-50% of the population have it though only 10% are serious cases*. As the first symptoms are mild (e.g.slight redness, occasional bleeding) many delay treating the problem. The appearance of severe symptoms (e.g. loose teeth, heavy recession of the gum and the tooth socket) are obvious signs of a severe problem.
How can you recognise it?
The first signs are mild:
- red, sensitive gum
- soft gum bleeding while tooth brushing or using dental floss or chewing hard food (e.g. apple, bread crust)
- swelling gum
- bad breath
- constant metallic taste in the mouth
- the gum recedes in a ‘V’ shape around the teeth and the teeth are more visible (the cause can also be a too strong toothbrush or brushing the teeth too strong)
- pockets appear between the gum and the teeth (pockets are sites where the attachment has been gradually destroyed by collagen-destroying enzymes, known as ''collagenases'')
- teeth become loose and their position changes which can lead to tooth loss
The causes of periodontitis
There are many reasons known for the development of parodontium disease. The most common ones are the improper dental care which leads to the development of plaque (and tartar later on), using a strong toothbrush that constantly irritates the gum, smoking and stress.
The risk for the development of parodontium disease are increased by the following diseases: diabetes, disease within the haemopoietic organs, immune system and metabolism. Tumours (and their treatment) and climax also affect the development of the diseases.
* Source: News Medical online magazine, 2011