Periodontitis is a set of inflammatory diseases affecting the periodontium, i.e., 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 overly 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 exam) and by evaluating the patient's x-ray films (i.e. a radiographic exam), to determine the amount of bone loss around the teeth.
Periodontal treatment is necessary when various conditions affect the health of your gums and the regions of your jawbone that hold your teeth in place. The treatment you need depends on how serious your periodontitis is. Dentists classify the disease as mild, moderate or severe.
Twice daily brushing and flossing, along with regular dental visits can help prevent periodontitis. The outlook is better if periodontitis is diagnosed before it gets serious. Once you start to lose bone, the outlook worsens. If you smoke, quitting will reduce your risk for this disease.