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Periodontics and the periodontal disease

author icon By Dr. George Ghidrai

Periodontology or Periodontics is the speciality of dentistry that studies supporting structures of teeth, as well as diseases and conditions that affect them. The supporting tissues are known as the periodontium, which include the gingiva (gums), alveolar bone, cementum, and the periodontal ligament.

The word periodontics derives from two Greek words : peri - around and odontos - tooth.

What are the main causes of the periodontal disease ?

Periodontal diseases are the result of bacterial plaque (also known as dental plaque) which accumulates on the surface of teeth, mostly near the gingival margin. Dental plaque is a biofilm (usually pale yellow or colourless) formed by colonizing bacteria on the surface of teeth.

periodontics : dental plaque

dental plaque on the surface of teeth
near the gingival margin

If dental plaque is not actively removed (see oral hygiene measures), micro-organisms that adhere and grow on teeth surfaces, combined with other risk factors will cause periodontal diseases.

Other risk factors may include certain anatomic conditions of the periodontium, an overly aggressive immune response, genetic disorders etc.

Although these risk factors have an important role in the progression of the periodontal disease, it is widely considered that without bacterial plaque, periodontal diseases do not occur.


Periodontal diseases are plaque-induced inflammatory conditionsPeriodontal disease are caused by bacterial plaque that leads to an inflammatory response (or an inflammation) from one of the periodontal structures that affect one or more of the periodontal structures : gingiva, alveolar bone, cementum, periodontal ligaments.

progression of periodontal disease progression of periodontal disease progression of periodontal disease

In the first stage, the periodontal disease will affect the superficial structures of the periodontium : the gums (or gingiva). The inflammation of the gums is called gingivitis.

In the absence of treatment, the periodontal disease may progress to deeper structures such as the periodontal ligament and the alveolar bone. The inflammation is called periodontitis and it is a destructive form of the periodontal disease.

Periodontitis involves progressive loss of the alveolar bone around the teeth and, if left untreated, can lead to the loosening and subsequent loss of teeth.


  1. Periodontal diseases are caused by bacterial plaque. In the absence of bacterial plaque, periodontal diseases do not occur.

  2. Intensive oral hygiene may prevent the occurrence of periodontal disease and the progression of the disease to deeper structures.

  3. Periodontal inflammatory diseases are divided into gingivitis, which is a non-destructive periodontal disease that affects superficial structures, and periodontitis, which is a destructive form that affects the deeper supporting structures.

  4. Periodontal disease is a progressive disease : data indicates that periodontitis is always preceded by gingivitis.

Last review and update: August 2021

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