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Gum Disease Periodontitis: Understanding The Dangers Of Periodontal Disease

Gums bleeding every time you brush? You’re not alone. Almost half of all adults in the United States have some form of gum disease, the leading cause of tooth loss. But don’t let that statistic make you roll your eyes and skip flossing tonight.

Our expert team at Keystone Periodontal Group is here to help you understand the dangers of periodontal disease and take control of your oral health. Ready to kick gum disease to the curb?

Key Takeaways

  • Periodontitis, or gum disease, is a severe infection that damages gums and supporting bones, leading to tooth loss. Nearly half of U.S. adults have some form of gum disease.
  • Gum disease progresses in stages: gingivitis (early), periodontitis (middle), and advanced periodontitis. Symptoms include red, swollen, bleeding gums, bad breath, loose teeth, and receding gums.
  • Untreated periodontitis can cause gum recession, tooth loss, and increase risks for heart disease and diabetes. Diagnosis involves visual exams, periodontal probing, x-rays, and reviewing medical history.
  • Treatment options range from non – surgical deep cleaning (scaling and root planing) to surgical procedures like flap surgery, bone grafts, soft tissue grafts, and guided tissue regeneration.
  • Preventing gum disease requires good oral hygiene habits (brushing twice daily, flossing, using mouthwash) and regular dental check-ups for early detection. Seek treatment from a periodontist if you notice signs of gum disease.

Understanding Periodontitis

gum disease

Periodontitis, or gum disease, is an infection that attacks the gums and bone supporting your teeth. Left untreated, it can cause your gums to pull away from your teeth, forming pockets where more bacteria can collect and cause damage.

Definition of periodontitis

Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that wreaks havoc on your gums and the bone that supports your teeth. It’s caused by pesky plaque bacteria that accumulate along your gum line, triggering inflammation and infection.

If left unchecked, periodontitis can lead to receding gums, bone loss, and even tooth loss.

This sneaky disease often progresses silently, without causing pain or obvious symptoms at first. That’s why regular dental check-ups are crucial for catching periodontitis early. Your dentist or periodontist can spot the telltale signs, like deepening periodontal pockets around your teeth, using special tools like a periodontal probe.

Causes and symptoms of periodontitis

Bacteria in your mouth can cause periodontitis. These germs live in sticky plaque and hard tartar on your teeth. They make toxins that irritate your gums. If you don’t clean well, the plaque and tartar build up.

This makes the gums pull away from the teeth, forming pockets. The pockets trap more bacteria, which makes the disease worse. Certain things raise your risk, like smoking, diabetes, and a weak immune system.

Watch out for warning signs of periodontitis. Your gums may look red and puffy. They might feel tender or bleed easily, especially when you brush or floss. You could have bad breath that won’t go away.

Your teeth may feel loose or look longer because your gums are shrinking. You might notice pus around your teeth and gums. See your dentist right away if you spot any of these red flags.

Stages of Gum Disease

Attractive, beautiful woman with wide smile

Gum disease doesn’t happen overnight. It starts with gingivitis, where your gums get red and puffy. If you don’t nip it in the bud, it can turn into periodontitis – when things start getting ugly.

Early stage of Gum Disease: Gingivitis

Gingivitis, the mildest form of periodontal disease, is like a warning sign from your gums. It’s their way of saying, “Hey, we need some TLC down here!” Picture your gums as little red flags, waving for attention.

They might be swollen, tender, and bleed easily when you brush or floss. But don’t panic! Gingivitis is reversible with proper oral hygiene habits and regular visits to your periodontist.

Think of gingivitis as a small spark before a raging fire. If left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. But here’s the good news: you have the power to extinguish that spark! By brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and scheduling regular dental check-ups, you can keep gingivitis at bay and maintain a healthy, happy smile.

Middle stage of Gum Disease: Periodontitis

The middle stage of periodontal disease is periodontitis. At this point, plaque and tartar have built up below the gum line, causing the gums to pull away from the teeth and creating pockets where bacteria thrive.

These bacteria release toxins that break down the bone and connective tissue holding your teeth in place. Symptoms of periodontitis include red, swollen gums that bleed easily, bad breath, and teeth that feel loose or sensitive.

If left untreated, periodontitis can progress to advanced periodontitis, leading to even more severe damage to the gums and bone. That’s why it’s crucial to seek treatment from a skilled periodontist at the first signs of gum disease.

Advanced stage of Gum Disease: Advanced periodontitis

As periodontitis progresses, the infection spreads deeper into the gum tissues and bone. In advanced periodontitis, the fibers and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed, which can cause your teeth to shift or loosen.

This severe stage of gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Pockets between your gums and teeth can deepen to more than 6-7 millimeters, allowing harmful bacteria to wreak havoc.

You may experience severe bad breath, a foul taste in your mouth, gum abscesses, and drifting of your teeth.

Without treatment, advanced periodontitis can have serious consequences for your oral and overall health. The chronic inflammation associated with this stage of gum disease has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes complications, and other concerning health issues.

Complications of Untreated Periodontal Disease

Untreated periodontal disease can lead to some serious complications. Gum recession and tooth loss are common problems, but periodontitis may also increase your risk for other health issues like heart disease and diabetes.

As the disease progresses, the bacteria and inflammation destroy the supportive tissues and bone that hold your teeth in place, causing them to become loose and eventually fall out.

Left untreated, periodontal disease can have devastating effects on your oral health. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, nearly half of adults over 30 have some form of gum disease, and it’s the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

Increased risk for other health conditions

Gum disease isn’t just bad news for your smile. This sneaky infection can wreak havoc on your whole body if left unchecked. Studies show that periodontitis increases your chances of developing serious health problems like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Why? Because the inflammation caused by gum disease can spread through your bloodstream, affecting other parts of your body. It’s like having a fire in your mouth that sends smoke signals to the rest of your system, saying “Hey, something’s wrong down here!”.

But don’t panic just yet. With the right treatment and care from a skilled periodontist, you can get your gum health back on track and reduce your risk of these scary complications.

Think of it like putting out that fire before it has a chance to spread. By nipping periodontitis in the bud, you’re not just saving your teeth – you’re potentially saving your life.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Periodontal Disease

At Keystone Periodontal Group, Dr. Amanda Clemente uses special dental tools to measure the depth of those pesky pockets forming between your teeth and gums – kind of like a gum detective on the case! If the pockets are deeper than 4mm or there’s bone loss, she’ll know it’s time to put together a personalized treatment plan to get your gums back in tip-top shape.

Diagnosis procedures

Periodontal disease can be sneaky, often progressing without obvious symptoms. A trained periodontist uses several methods to diagnose the condition:

  • Visual examination: The gums are checked for redness, swelling, and bleeding – all potential signs of inflammation and infection.
  • Periodontal probing: A small ruler called a periodontal probe is gently inserted between the gums and teeth to measure pocket depths. Healthy gums have pockets 1-3 millimeters deep, while pockets over 4 mm may indicate periodontal disease.
  • Dental X-rays: These images show the bone levels around the teeth. Bone loss can be a sign of advanced gum disease.
  • Reviewing medical history: Certain systemic conditions and risk factors, like smoking or diabetes, can increase susceptibility to periodontal issues.
  • Checking tooth mobility: Teeth that feel loose or migrate over time can be a red flag for compromised periodontal support.

Treatment options including scaling and root planing, flap surgery

Treatment for periodontal disease can range from non-surgical therapies to control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues. Your periodontist will recommend the best treatment based on the severity of your condition. Some common treatment options include:

  • Scaling and root planing: This non-surgical, deep-cleaning procedure is usually the first approach for treating periodontitis. It involves scraping off the tartar from above and below the gum line (scaling) and smoothing out the rough spots on the tooth root (planing) to remove bacteria and provide a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth.
  • Flap surgery/pocket reduction surgery: If inflammation and deep pockets remain after scaling and root planing, your periodontist may perform a surgical procedure called flap surgery to remove tartar deposits in deep pockets or to reduce the periodontal pocket and make it easier for you to clean. This involves lifting back the gums, removing the tartar, and then suturing the gums back in place so that the tissue fits snugly around the tooth again.
  • Bone grafts: If periodontitis has destroyed the bone surrounding your tooth root, your periodontist may recommend a procedure to regenerate lost bone and tissue, using natural or synthetic bone grafts along with tissue-stimulating proteins.
  • Soft tissue grafts: When gum tissue has been lost due to gum recession, your periodontist may suggest a soft tissue graft, where synthetic material or tissue taken from another area of your mouth is used to cover the exposed tooth roots.
  • Guided tissue regeneration: This procedure is performed when the bone supporting your teeth has been destroyed. It stimulates bone and gum tissue growth, by placing a special piece of biocompatible fabric between the existing bone and your tooth, preventing unwanted tissue from entering the healing area.

Preventing Periodontal Disease

Here’s a little secret: the best way to prevent periodontitis is to keep your pearly whites squeaky clean. Brush and floss like your smile depends on it (because it does!).

Importance of good oral hygiene

Maintaining good oral hygiene is the foundation of a healthy smile. Brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing every day, and using an antiseptic mouthwash can help keep your teeth and gums in excellent condition.

These simple habits eliminate plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that adheres to your teeth and gums, leading to cavities and gum disease. Consider your mouth as a garden – regular upkeep prevents the weeds from growing and allows the flowers to flourish.

Along with your at-home routine, regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are essential. Your dentist or dental hygienist can detect early signs of problems and address them before they worsen.

They’ll also provide your teeth with a thorough cleaning, eliminating any stubborn tartar that your toothbrush and floss can’t remove. Therefore, don’t miss those dental appointments – they’re your key to a lifetime of healthy smiles.

Regular dentist visits for early detection

Detecting gum disease in its early stages is essential to avoiding tooth loss and other health problems. Seeing your periodontist for regular check-ups, even if your gums seem healthy, enables them to identify the early warning signs of periodontal issues.

They’ll utilize specialized instruments such as dental probes and x-rays to look for inflammation, redness, deep pockets between your teeth and gums, and any bone loss – all indicators that trouble may be developing.

Don’t wait until your gums are painful or bleeding to schedule that appointment. Gum disease is stealthy and can advance without clear symptoms initially. Prioritize those biannual visits, just as you would for a check-up with your physician.

Conclusion: Importance of addressing periodontal disease and a call to action to seek treatment.

Periodontal disease is a serious oral health issue that affects almost half of all adults in the US. Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss, gum recession, and even increase the risk of heart disease.

The good news is that with proper oral hygiene habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups, you can prevent or manage periodontitis. If you notice any signs of gum disease, don’t wait – contact a skilled periodontist like Dr.

Amanda Clemente at Keystone Periodontal Group in Reading for diagnosis and treatment to keep your smile healthy and bright.


1. What is gum disease or periodontitis?

Gum disease, also called periodontitis, is an infection of the gums and bone that hold your teeth in place. It’s caused by bacteria in plaque, a sticky film that forms on your teeth. If not removed, plaque can harden into tartar, which brushing can’t clean.

2. What are the symptoms of gum disease?

Signs of gum disease include:

– Red, swollen, or tender gums

– Bleeding while brushing or flossing

– Gums that pull away from your teeth

– Bad breath that doesn’t go away

– Pus between your teeth and gums

– Loose teeth or teeth that move apart

3. What are the stages of periodontal disease?

The stages of gum disease are:

– Gingivitis: early stage with red, swollen gums that bleed easily

– Mild periodontitis: gums pull away from teeth, forming pockets

– Moderate periodontitis: more bone loss and deeper pockets

– Advanced periodontitis: severe bone loss, teeth may loosen or fall out

4. How is gum disease treated?

The goal of treatment is to control the infection. Treatment may include:

– Deep cleaning (scaling and root planing)

– Medications like antibiotics or special mouthwashes

– Surgery, such as flap surgery or bone and tissue grafts

– Good oral hygiene at home with regular brushing and flossing

5. Can gum disease be prevented?

You can help prevent gum disease by:

– Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste

– Flossing daily to remove plaque between teeth

– Eating a healthy diet and avoiding sugary snacks

– Not smoking or using tobacco products

– Seeing your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings

6. Is periodontitis linked to other health problems?

Yes, gum disease may increase your risk of other health issues like:

– Heart disease and stroke

– Diabetes complications

– Premature birth or low birth weight babies

– Respiratory diseases like pneumonia

Researchers are studying these links to understand them better. Keeping your gums healthy is important for your overall well-being!


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