What is periodontitis or advanced gum disease?

Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below your gum line.  Gums separate from your teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, your teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.

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

  • Aggressive periodontitis This type of gum disease occurs in otherwise healthy people. The condition presents rapid spread of the gum infection and bone destruction.
  • Chronic periodontitis This is the most common type of gum infection that is seen in adults.The infection progresses slowly, but periods of rapid progression can occur. Gums separate away from the teeth and bone destruction occurs.
  • Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases The form of gum infection 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 In this form of the disease, degeneration of the gums and bone is seen with associated necrosis. These lesions are most commonly observed in individuals with systemic conditions such as HIV infection, malnutrition and immunosuppression.

How can I prevent periodontitis?


Luckily, periodontal disease is preventable. Adding these habits to your daily routine can help.

Brush your teeth.

Brush your teeth twice a day. Also brushing after meals helps remove food debris and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums. And don’t forget to scrape your tongue. Your tongue harbours the maximum number of bacteria.


Flossing at least once a day removes food particles and plaque between teeth and along the gum line. This is the area that your toothbrush can’t quite reach.

Swish with mouthwash.

Using a mouthwash can help reduce plaque and can remove remaining food particles that your brushing and flossing missed.

Know your risk.

Age, smoking, diet and genetics can all increase your risk for gum disease. If you are at increased risk, be sure to talk to your dentist or dental hygienist.

See a periodontist.

Get an annual comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE) from a dental professional. A CPE looks at your teeth, plaque level, gums, bite, bone structure and other risk factors for advanced gum disease. Identifying symptoms of gum disease early is key to protecting your teeth and gums.