Periodontics is the dental specialty focused on the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of periodontal disease and other conditions that affect the gums, soft tissues of the mouth, and jaw bone. Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection caused by bacteria in plaque. Plaque and tarter build up around the teeth causes inflammation of the gum tissues. If this condition is not treated in its early stages, it develops into periodontitis, which causes damage to the supporting jawbone.
Gingivitis/periodontitis is characterized by red, tender, bleeding, and swollen gums and can eventually lead to recession, bone loss and tooth loss. Gingivitis can usually be controlled and even reversed with additional professional cleanings and improved at-home oral care if the condition is diagnosed and treated early.
Periodontitis generally requires more involved, frequent treatment.
- Chronic periodontitis, which often progresses slowly, is the most common form and is most prevalent in adults, especially in smokers and diabetics.
- Aggressive periodontitis, is characterized by rapid detachment of gums to teeth and rapid bone loss. This form is likely to appear in smokers and in those with a family history of periodontitis.
- Necrotizing periodontal disease, in which necrosis (the death of tissue) affects gums, bone tissue, and the fiber connecting teeth to the bone. This form of periodontitis is prevalent in those who suffer from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), immunosuppression, or malnutrition. In some cases, periodontitis is associated with systemic disease affecting other parts of the body. Conditions like diabetes are associated with this form of periodontal disease.