Gum disease is where the gums become swollen, sore or infected. The gums may bleed during tooth brushing and gum disease may cause bad breath. Gum disease is also called gingivitis or periodontal disease.
Periodontitis or pyorrhea is a set of inflammatory diseases affecting the tissues that surround and support the teeth. Periodontitis involves progressive loss of the alveolar bone around the teeth, and if left untreated, can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth. Periodontitis is caused by microorganisms that adhere to and grow on the tooth's surfaces, along with an over-aggressive immune response against these microorganisms. A diagnosis of periodontitis is established by inspecting the soft gum tissues around the teeth with a probe (i.e., a clinical examination) and by evaluating the patient's X-ray films (i.e. a radiographic examination), to determine the amount of bone loss around the teeth.
Signs and symptoms
In the early stages, periodontitis has very few symptoms; and in many individuals the disease has progressed significantly before they seek treatment. Symptoms may include:
- Redness or bleeding of gums while brushing teeth
- Gum swelling that recurs
- Spitting out blood after brushing teeth
- bad breath, and a persistent metallic taste in the mouth
- Loose teeth
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Pus between your teeth and gums
Treatments for gum disease
The best treatment for gum disease is good oral hygiene, with regular tooth brushing, flossing and dental check-ups. In some cases, oral surgery or procedures will be recommended for severe cases of gum disease.