Periodontitis is a gum infection that requires immediate dental treatment. If left untreated, it can result in tooth loss and other serious health problems.

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, exists in two forms: gingivitis and periodontitis. Both types of gum disease arise from a bacterial infection that is usually brought on by poor dental care. Gingivitis is a milder form of gum disease that causes irritated, bleeding gums. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis.

Like gingivitis, periodontitis causes gums to bleed and become inflamed. Other signs and symptoms of periodontitis can include:

  • Mouth sores
  • Gum pain
  • A sour taste in the mouth

Many people with periodontitis experience few symptoms. But even in the absence of obvious symptoms, untreated periodontitis can cause teeth to loosen and fall out or need to be extracted.

Types of Periodontitis

There are several types of periodontitis, but the most common forms are:

  • Aggressive periodontitis. This is a rapidly progressive form of periodontitis that leads to gum deterioration and jawbone destruction in people who are otherwise healthy.
  • Chronic periodontitis. This is the most common type of periodontitis. The inflammation occurs more slowly, but can still, eventually, result in tooth loss.
  • Periodontitis related to other conditions. Periodontitis can also occur in association with and be exacerbated by other health problems, including diabetes, lung disorders, and heart disease.
  • Necrotizing periodontal disease. People whose immune systems have been compromised by conditions such as malnutrition, HIV infection, and cancer are vulnerable to this type of periodontitis. The gum tissue, supportive ligaments, and bone all undergo severe damage, or necrosis, as a result of this form of periodontitis.

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