Inflammation in Systemic Health and in Periodontal Disease

Anthony M. Iacopino, DMD, PhD


April 07, 2011

In This Article

Periodontal Disease

Over the last decade, the relationship between oral health and overall health has emerged, with inflammatory markers important in both.[1] Periodontal disease is an oral infection caused by accumulation of a bacteria-containing biofilm around the teeth.[2] As this biofilm matures, it is colonized by progressively more virulent and destructive bacteria that cause an inflammatory reaction in the soft and hard tissues supporting the teeth. If the biofilm is not removed periodically and maintained at low levels through semiannual professional cleaning and daily home care (brushing, flossing, and antimicrobial mouth rinses), the initial inflammation of the gingiva (referred to as gingivitis) may develop into a more serious long-term destructive process (periodontitis) in which the periodontal ligament and bone supporting the teeth are progressively eroded. Left untreated, this may result in bleeding around the teeth, abscess formation, gingival recession, halitosis, and loosening or complete loss of teeth.[3] The transition from oral health through severe chronic disease can be seen in the following clinical photographs in Figure 1.

Figure 1. The evolution of periodontitis.


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