What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is one of the top reasons for tooth loss in adults. Many patients do not know they have it.

Gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque (a sticky form of bacteria that forms on the teeth). If the plaque is not removed (by flossing, brushing, and regular dental checkups), it will continue to build up and create toxins that can damage the gums.

Periodontal disease forms just below the gum line and creates small pockets that separate the gums from the teeth. Periodontal disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.

  • Gingivitis

    This is the early stage of gum disease, when the gums become red, swollen, and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is treatable and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing.

  • Infected Gums

    If left untreated, gingivitis will advance into periodontal disease, and the gums and bone that support the teeth will become seriously and irreversibly damaged. Infected gums can cause teeth to become loose, fall out, or need to be removed by a dentist.

Certain factors can increase a patient’s risk of developing periodontal disease, including:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Certain types of medication such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
  • Bridges that no longer fit properly
  • Crooked teeth
  • Old fillings

While it is possible to have periodontal disease and not know it, some symptoms can include:

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Red, swollen, tender gums
  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures

Treating Gum Disease

Treatments for gum disease can vary depending on the severity of each individual case. Typical treatments include:

  • Scaling and root planing (deep cleaning) by our hygienist
  • Referral to a specialist periodontist