Types of Gum Disease


Untreated periodontal disease can eventually lead to tooth loss and other health problems


Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.


Factors that may contribute to gingivitis include diabetes, smoking, aging, genetic predisposition, systemic diseases and conditions, stress, inadequate nutrition, puberty, hormonal fluctuations, pregnancy, substance abuse, HIV infection, and certain medication use.




Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums, which stimulate a strong inflammatory response from the body.  This leads to destruction of the bone and other tissues which support the teeth.


Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets that create another pathway for more bacteria to populate along the root and infect the gum. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed.  Eventually, teeth can become loose and are eventually lost.  Although very destructive, this process is generally painless.


There are many forms of periodontitis. The most common ones include the following.


Chronic Periodontitis results in inflammation within the supporting tissues of the teeth, progressive bone and attachment loss. This is the most frequently occurring form of periodontitis and is characterized by pocket formation and/or recession of the gingiva. It is prevalent in adults, but can occur at any age. Progression usually occurs slowly, but periods of rapid advancement can occur.


Aggressive Periodontitis occurs in patients who are otherwise clinically healthy. Common features include rapid bone loss and a significant family history of this disease.


Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases often begins at a young age. Systemic conditions such as heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes are associated with this form of periodontitis.


Necrotizing periodontal disease is an infection characterized by necrosis of gingival tissues, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. These lesions are most commonly observed in individuals with systemic conditions such as HIV infection, malnutrition and immunosuppression.