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The periodontal diseases are highly prevalent and can affect up to 90% of the worldwide population. Gingivitis, the mildest form of periodontal disease, is caused by the bacterial biofilm (dental plaque) that accumulates on teeth adjacent to the gingiva (gums). However, gingivitis does not affect the underlying supporting structures of the teeth and is reversible. Periodontitis results in loss of connective tissue and bone support and is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. In addition to pathogenic microorganisms in the biofilm, genetic and environmental factors, especially tobacco use, contribute to the cause of these diseases. Genetic, dermatological, haematological, granulomatous, immunosuppressive, and neoplastic disorders can also have periodontal manifestations. Common forms of periodontal disease have been associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, pulmonary disease, and diabetes, but the causal relations have not been established. Prevention and treatment are aimed at controlling the bacterial biofilm and other risk factors, arresting progressive disease, and restoring lost tooth support.