What Causes Periodontal Disease?


    Periodontal Disease results from a combination of the presence of bacteria working in concert with a host’s reduced capacity to resist disease or inflammation.  The host’s inability to resist periodontal disease may be a result of a genetic predisposition or susceptibility to the disease or from the host being immunocompromised.  The pathogens that cause the disease are rarely found in people without the disease.  Three specific causative periodontal bacteria are A. actinomycetocomitans (A.a.) Porphyromonas gingivalis (P.g.), and Fusobacterium nucleatum.


    Periodontal disease is a contagious disease. There are up to 700 different bacteria in the human mouth. Most of these bacteria are benign, but some can trigger a host of systemic diseases. Joint studies of this infectious disease were conducted at the University of Helsinki, Finland and the University of Southern California at Los Angeles documenting the person-to-person transmission of these bacteria.  Periodontal Disease begins when these bacteria found in plaque initiate an inflammatory response by the host.  The immune response of the host’s periodontal tissues produce toxins and enzymes that cause inflammation and progressive destruction of the gums and supporting bone.


    Plaque that is not removed on a regular basis will harden into rough porous deposits called calculus, or tartar.  The pores in the calculus harbor the bacteria and toxins and are impossible to remove by brushing and flossing.  It can only be removed when the teeth are cleaned with the appropriate periodontal therapy at the dental office.

Plaque:  The sticky, colorless film that constantly forms

on the teeth and the surfaces lining the mouth.