Riggs' disease

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Riggs' disease, also known as pyorrhea of a toothsocket or gingivitis expulsiva, is a historical term for periodontitis (gum disease),[1][2] The condition was described as a purulent inflammation of the dental periosteum. It was named after American dentist John Mankey Riggs (1811–1885).[3]

Riggs' disease was said to produce the progressive necrosis of the alveoli and looseness of the teeth. The teeth may become very loose and fall out of the sockets.

Mark Twain wrote briefly about Riggs' disease in his short essay, Happy Memories of the Dental Chair, in which he claims to have been examined by Dr. Riggs himself.[4]


  1. ^ Reddy S (1 December 2008). Essentials of Clinical Periodontology and Periodontics. Jaypee Brothers Publishers. p. 15. ISBN 978-81-8448-148-8. 
  2. ^ "Archaic Medical Terms English List Periodontal". 
  3. ^ Shklar, G; Carranza, FA: The Historical Background of Periodontology. In Newman, MG; Takei, HH; Carrana FA, editors: Carranza’s Clinical Periodontology, 9th Edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 2002. page 7.
  4. ^ Mark Twain's Notebooks & Journals, Volume II (1877-1883): The Mark Twain papers