Periodontitis (per-o-don-tie-tis), also known as gum disease, is a serious gum infection that can cause damage to the soft tissue surrounding the teeth. Without treatment, periodontitis can lead to bone loss and even tooth loss. The main cause of periodontitis is poor oral hygiene, as bacteria attach to plaque and tartar on the surface of the teeth. If not cleaned properly, bacteria can move below the gum line and erode the tissues that support the teeth, leading to infections and tooth loss.
The symptoms of periodontal disease include swollen, red, and tender gums. People with periodontitis may also experience severe pain when chewing, bad breath, and a bad taste in their mouth. In its most serious form, called periodontitis, the gums can detach from the tooth, bone can be lost, and the teeth can become loose or even fall out. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is working with key partner organizations such as the American Academy of Periodontology and the American Dental Association to improve and maintain surveillance for periodontal disease in adults.
People with periodontitis are at greater risk of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and other serious health problems. If you notice any symptoms of periodontitis, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist may do dental x-rays or refer you to a periodontist for further testing and treatment.