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What causes necrotizing periodontitis?

The friendly microorganisms in our mouths help us begin the process of digestion by breaking down food and keep our mouths healthy by holding attacking microorganisms at bay. When an individual has necrotizing periodontitis, the disease-causing microorganisms overpopulate the mouth. This overgrowth causes sticky plaque on the teeth, and the microorganisms begin to attack the teeth and gums, causing tooth decay and gum disease. They cause bacteria-filled ulcers, which can destroy the underlying bone structure, as well as the tissues that hold your teeth in place.

Necrotizing periodontitis, like other forms of periodontitis, is caused by bacteria. The bacteria form plaque, a film that enables them to attach to the surface of your teeth. When this plaque spreads below the gums, the toxins released by the bacteria irritate the gums. The body responds with immune cells and chemicals intended to fight the bacteria. But these can also attack healthy tissue, breaking down the gum and bone to which the teeth are attached.

Necrotizing periodontitis usually only occurs in people with weak immune systems, caused by conditions such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or malnutrition. In these individuals, the infection can form sores and kill cells in the flesh and bone surrounding the teeth.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.