What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is the number 1 cause of loss of teeth in adults. Perio means around and -dontal refers to tooth; “what is around the tooth.”  First there are the gums, or gingiva in dental terms. Underlying the gums the jaw bone surrounding the roots of the teeth. The jawbone provides strength and stability.


Two Types of Gingiva or Gums

There are two types of Gingiva: attached and marginal.

Attached Gingiva is firmly connected to the underlying bone.
Marginal Gingiva is free-standing, extending from it’s attachment to the tooth about 1 millimeter.

A probe placed between the gum and the tooth will stop at this attachment. If plaque collects in this small space, the marginal gingiva will become inflamed. This condition is called Gingivitis.

Gingivitis Symptoms and Plaque

  • Symptoms can include inflamed gums.
  • Bleeding when brushing or flossing.

Allowed to continue the gums will swell even more. The attachment to the gums responds to the inflammation by migrating down the root. The bone level also drops with the attachment.

Now the probe slips beneath the gum before stopping. This space the probe slips into is called a pocket.

Plaque that collects in the pocket over time hardens into calculus or what we know as tartar. The calculus is very irritating and causes further inflammation and bone loss.


When bone loss occurs the condition is known as “Periodontitis.”  Now if this condition is allowed to continue you will eventually loose the tooth.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease can be localized or widespread. It can also be moderate or severe.

Prevention of Gum Disease

The good thing is, Periodontal disease is preventable with a good dental care routine.

  • Brush after every meal.
  • Brush your teeth before bed time.
  • Floss at least once a day.
  • Do not smoke
  • Eat a healthy diet.

Keep up with your regular visits to your dentist along with regular cleanings with a hygienist.

Most patients are not aware that periodontal disease even exists let a lone the devastating consequences.

Dr. Gregory G. Erramouspe – Wyoming Dentist.