A 60 year old patient with severe chronic periodontitis. Photograph: Augustin Zeron
"Periodontitis" - Inflammation of the periodontium (the tissues surrounding the teeth.) There are two types: periapical and chronic. Periapical periodontitis results from neglected dental caries and occurs when bacteria enter the tooth pulp and spread to the root tip, sometimes causing a dental abscess, granuloma, or cyst. Chronic periodontitis is a result of untreated gingivitis, in which bacteria attack the periodontal tissues. This type is the major cause of adult tooth loss.
Periapical periodontitis may cause toothache, especially on biting. An abscess may make the tooth loss; a large dental cyst may cause swelling of the jaw. In chronic periodontitis, the signs of gingivitis are present.
Periodontitis is diagnosed by a dental examination and dental x-rays. Periapical periodontitis is treated by draining pus and filling the tooth or by extraction.
Regular teeth cleaning can prevent advanced chronic periodontal disease and further destruction of the tissues. Treatment may include root planing, scaling, gingivectomy, or curettage. Sometimes, loose teeth can be anchored to firmer teeth by splinting.
"periodontitis". British Medical Association (2007). Illustrated Medical Dictionary. 2nd ed. London: Dorling Kindersley (DK). p441.