Periodontitis is an inflammatory disease affecting the supporting tissues of the teeth (gingival, alveolar bone and periodontal ligament). It affects a large percentage of the adult population (about 40%). Periodontitis is caused by bacteria normally present in the oral cavity and it manifests when the conditions present allow for the multiplication of these microorganisms. As microbial numbers increase, the inflammation intensifies, resulting in the destruction of the supporting bone and recession of the gums.
Patients initially do not present with symptoms other than bleeding of the gums, which itself might be masked by smoking, and frequently the disease goes undetected until the gums start receding, halitosis (bad breath) appears and the teeth become loose. Diagnosis requires a special clinical and radiographic examination and the patients are referred to a specialist periodontist by their general dental practitioner. Periodontal disease may progress at a slow rate (Chronic Periodontitis) or present with rapid bone loss (Aggressive Periodontitis).
At the initial examination, the periodontal specialist performs special measurements around each tooth (periodontal charting), in order to determine the degree of attachment loss. Radiographic (x-ray) examination is required in order to confirm the diagnosis and formulate the treatment plan. These clinical measurements are repeated at least 6 weeks following the treatment and at the maintenance visits.