Page, Roy C. Research Center in Oral Biology, School of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.
Last reviewed:May 2020
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An inflammatory lesioned condition caused by bacteria affecting the tissues housing the roots of the teeth. Periodontal disease, sometimes called gum disease or pyorrhea, occurs when the tissues surrounding the teeth become pathologically inflamed by bacteria. In general, periodontal disease increases in prevalence and severity with advancing age, and it is a principal cause of tooth loss in adult humans throughout the world. When only the gum tissue or gingiva is affected, the disease is called gingivitis; however, when the inflammatory processes extend into deeper structures, it is known as periodontitis (Fig. 1). The diseased tissues appear abnormally red and slightly swollen, and they tend to bleed (sometimes profusely) when the teeth are brushed. In some cases, the gums may become thickened and scarred, and they may recede, exposing the root surfaces. As the disease advances, the attachment of the gum to the tooth is lost, creating a periodontal pocket; subsequently, a large portion of the gum tissue is destroyed, and the bone surrounding the roots is resorbed. The teeth become loose, abscesses form, and extraction is required. See also: Bacteria; Bacteriology; Dentistry; Inflammation; Medical bacteriology; Microbiology; Mouth disorders; Tooth; Tooth disorders
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