When left untreated, gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) can spread to below the gum line. When the gums become irritated by the toxins contained in plaque, a chronic inflammatory response causes the body to break down and destroy its own bone and soft tissue. There may be little or no symptoms as periodontal disease causes the teeth to separate from the infected gum tissue. Deepening pockets between the gums and teeth are generally indicative that soft tissue and bone is being destroyed by periodontal disease. Unfortunately if left to progress, this eventually causes teeth to become loose and fall out.
Here are some of the most common periodontal disease types:
- Chronic periodontitis– Inflammation within supporting tissues cause deep pockets and gum recession. It may appear the teeth are lengthening, but in actuality, the gums (gingiva) are receding. This is the most common form of periodontal disease and is characterized by progressive loss of attachment, interspersed with periods of rapid progression.
- Aggressive periodontitis– This form of gum disease occurs in an otherwise clinically healthy individual. It is characterized by rapid loss of gum attachment, chronic bone destruction and familial aggregation.
- Necrotizing periodontitis– This form of periodontal disease most often occurs in individuals suffering from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression and malnutrition. Necrosis (tissue death) occurs in the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingival tissues.
- Periodontitis caused by systemic disease– This form of gum disease often begins at an early age. Medical condition such as respiratory disease, diabetes and heart disease are common cofactors.