Long-Term Effects of Gum Disease If Untreated

The word periodontal means "around the tooth". There are two different types of periodontal diseases: gingivitis and periodontitis. These diseases are caused by bacterial infections of the gums.

Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease, but if left untreated it can progress to periodontitis.

There are several types of periodontitis with varying degrees of symptom severity. The most common types are: aggressive, chronic, necrotizing and periodontitis caused by systemic disease.

  1. Early Stages

    • Gingivitis is often a precursor to the more severe forms of gum disease. At this stage the effects are relatively mild and may even go unnoticed. Swollen or bleeding gums and persistent bad breath are the most common problems associated with gingivitis. The gums may begin to recede away from the teeth as well.

    Chronic Periodontitis

    • This gum disease will usually form if gingivitis is left untreated. It includes gingivitis' symptoms in addition to more severe problems. Pus may form beneath the gum line, as well as pockets or recesses. Teeth may begin to shift position and become loose. The gums may begin to recede, making the teeth appear longer. They may also pull away from the teeth all together in some spots, creating "flaps".

    Aggressive Periodontitis

    • If left untreated, chronic periodontitis may become aggressive. Aggressive periodontitis may also occur in individuals without the chronic version. The symptoms are generally the same as with chronic, but they occur more rapidly. Aggressive periodontitis may also go into remission and even appear to disappear altogether, then have another bout of severe symptoms develop quickly.

    Permanent Effects

    • Once gum disease has become chronic or aggressive, the bacteria below the gum line causes permanent damage to not only the gums and teeth, but also to the connective tissue and bones. Loss of bone mass in the jaw is the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Gums can continue to recede until tooth roots are exposed, which can lead to sensitivities and pain in the teeth. Surgery is required to prevent further damage and to try to correct these problems.


    • There are many precautions you can take to prevent periodontal disease, which will in turn lower your risk of developing other systemic diseases. Oral hygiene is the simplest way to prevent periodontal disease. In addition to brushing at least twice a day, flossing is very important. It removes plaque, bacteria and food particles from between teeth and along the gum line. Smoking increases the risk of developing periodontal diseases, so quitting smoking lessens your risk of gum disease.

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