Periodontal (gum) disease is one of the most frequently treated, yet almost entirely preventable dental problems.

What is Periodontal Disease?


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), periodontal diseases are the result of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth. In its early stage, called gingivitis, the gums can become swollen and red, and they may bleed. In its more serious form, called periodontitis, the gums can pull away from the tooth, bone can be lost, and the teeth may loosen or even fall out. Periodontal disease is mostly seen in adults.
Periodontal disease and tooth decay are the two biggest threats to dental health.  Oral health and hygiene is just as important as physical health; however, not everyone notices an infection or an oral inflammation until it is too late. Periodontal disease or periodontitis is a slow and progressive disease that may not only cause tooth loss, but it is linked to several, more serious diseases such as cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and diabetes that is clearly nothing to smile about.
Periodontitis is known as a silent disease because it is not always painful. It begins with gingivitis or gum inflammation where there is bacteria buildup or plaque.  This causes the gums to be sensitive or irritated. The teeth are still intact; however, if the gingivitis is left untreated, or if plaque buildup becomes too hard to remove, it can lead to periodontitis.  Then both the gum and the bone are affected, causing the tooth to become loose and eventually fall out. This is a gradual process that could take years. Some individuals do not even know that they have it until the signs become more obvious. 
Many people, especially if they haven’t been properly brushing and flossing, begin to have problems with their gums as they get older. Gum disease is a deepening of the sulcus – the v-shaped cavity between the gums and the teeth. This deepening or receding occurs when there is an infection or disease in the gums, which can even lead to bone loss and tooth mobility.  Thoroughly brushing twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and properly flossing daily will help to prevent gum disease along with a professional cleaning every 3 – 6 months. Once gum disease has set in, there are dental procedures a dentist can implement to help heal a patient’s gums.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Bacteria in the mouth infect tissue surrounding the tooth, causing inflammation around the tooth leading to periodontal disease. When bacteria stay on the teeth long enough, they form a film called plaque, which eventually hardens to tartar, also called calculus. Tartar build-up can spread below the gum line, which makes the teeth harder to clean. Then, only a dental health professional can remove the tartar and stop the periodontal disease process.

Stages of Periodontal Disease


Periodontal Disease Warning Signs

  • Bad breath or bad taste that won't go away
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures
  • Changes in tooth gaps

Periodontal Disease Risk Factors

Factors increase the risk for periodontal disease:
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Stress
  • Heredity
  • Crooked teeth
  • Underlying immuno-deficiencies—e.g., AIDS
  • Fillings that have become defective
  • Taking medications that cause dry mouth
  • Bridges that no longer fit properly
  • Female hormonal changes, such as with pregnancy or the use of oral contraceptives

Periodontal Disease Prevention and Treatment

Gingivitis can be controlled and treated with good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning. More severe forms of periodontal disease can also be treated successfully but may require more extensive treatment. Such treatment might include deep cleaning of the tooth root surfaces below the gums, medications prescribed to take by mouth or placed directly under the gums, and sometimes corrective surgery.
To help prevent or control periodontal diseases, it is important to:
  1. Brush and floss every day to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease.
  2. See a dentist at least once a year for checkups, or more frequently if you have any of the warning signs or risk factors mentioned above.

Periodontal Disease Q&A

Q: Can gum disease be cured?
A: There is no cure for periodontal disease, but it can be controlled as long as you keep up the home care you have been taught. Any further loss of bone will be very slow and it may stop altogether.

Q:  Can gum disease affect your health?
A: The health of your mouth could affect the health of your whole body. More and more evidence shows a strong association between gum disease and heart disease, stroke, diabetes, poor pregnancy outcomes, and other conditions. Some early research has even found a higher risk for certain cancers.
Q: What does gum disease look like?
A: Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, aninfection of the tissues around your teeth caused by plaque. If you have gingivitis, your gums may become red, swollen and bleed easily. You may also experience bad breath. Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it.

Research Related to Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease surgical procedures:

  • Pocket Reduction Procedure – The dentist will pull the gum off the tooth or teeth and do a thorough cleaning of that area, and then replace and re-attach the gums to the tooth or teeth.
  • Regenerative Procedure – If a problem with the patient’s bone growth in the mouth persists, the dentist will pull the gum from the teeth and then use a technique to encourage bone growth.
  • Crown Lengthening – A periodontal treatment where the dentist will move the visible gum line farther from the tip of the tooth to change a “gummy” smile into a more aesthetic smile.
  • Tissue Grafting – If there is a major problem with a patient’s gum growth, the doctor will take some soft tissue from the palate or another place on the body, and graft it onto the patient’s gums to encourage and stimulate growth and gum health.

We offer stress-free therapy, utilizing high-tech tools and procedures to avoid pain and create a comfortable environment for our patients.