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Gum Disease

Gum DiseaseMany adults in the United States currently suffer from some form of gum disease. Gum disease can range from mild gum inflammation to severe periodontitis, causing destruction of soft tissue and bone density. When gum disease is left untreated, tooth loss may also occur.

What Causes Gum Disease?

The oral cavity is filled with a vast amount of bacteria. These bacteria, along with other particles found in the oral cavity, form sticky film on teeth. Brushing and flossing regularly can adequately remove buildup from teeth. However, when plaque is not properly removed, the formation of tartar will develop. Unfortunately, tartar can only be removed by a dental professional.


Gingivitis is often the result of bacteria buildup which causes irritation to the soft tissues. Common symptoms of gingivitis include gums that are red, swollen, or can easily bleed. This mild form of gum disease can be remedied with thorough brushing and flossing in addition to routine cleanings by our dentist. This form of gum disease does not involve any loss of bone density or soft tissue.


When gingivitis is left untreated, this condition can lead to the development of advance periodontitis. Characteristics of periodontitis include gums that have proceeded to pull away from teeth and the formation of pockets filled with infection. As the body’s immune system attempts to fight the infection, the natural response to infection present in the body results in the breakdown of connective tissues that hold teeth in place. When periodontitis is left untreated, bone and gum tissue will be destroyed. Teeth may gradually become loose and extractions may be necessary.

Risk Factors for Developing Gum Disease

  • Smoking
  • Hormonal changes in teens and women
  • Systemic diseases including diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among others
  • Medications
  • Genetic susceptibility

How Do I Know If I Have Gum Disease?

Symptoms of gum disease include the following:

  • Persistent bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Pain while chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth that are sensitive
  • Gums that have begun to recede

Any of these symptoms listed above may be an indication of a serious health oral health complication. Patients exhibiting these symptoms should visit our dentist for an evaluation immediately. During these checkups the following will be performed:

  • Your medical history will be thoroughly discussed. This process will help identify the underlying conditions or risk factors that may be contributing to gum disease.
  • A detailed examination of your gum tissue will be conducted. Any signs of inflammation, recession, or damage to soft tissue will be noted.
  • A periodontal probe will be used to help check the pocket depths of your soft tissue. The depth of healthy gum tissue should read between 1 to 3 millimeters.
  • An x-ray may also be taken to aid in the diagnosis of your condition. Bone loss can be detected with the help of a radiograph image of your tooth.
  • If your case is rather complex, you may need intensive treatment.

How is Gum Disease Treated?

There are various ways to help control gum disease infection. The types of treatment vary, depending on the severity of gum disease. However, any type of treatment rendered will require routine maintenance at home with proper brush and flossing methods.

  • Deep Cleaning

    Our dentist removes plaque and tartar buildup through a method known as scaling and root planing. Scaling allows tartar buildup to be removed from all surfaces of teeth, including below the gum line. Root planing focuses on removal of buildup specifically on the roots of teeth where germs gather. Laser assisted periodontal therapy may also be used to help eliminate bacteria. Laser assisted therapy has been known to minimize bleeding, swelling, and discomfort in comparison to traditional methods of cleaning.

  • Medications

    Medications may also be used in conjunction with scaling and root planing, however, this technique cannot take the place of surgery. Depending on the progression of the disease, our dentist may suggest surgical treatments to help combat the effects of periodontal disease.

How Can I Keep My Teeth Clean?

  • Teeth should be brushed twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste
  • Flossing once a day can help remove plaque and food debris in between teeth
  • Visit our dentist routinely for a professional cleanings and a dental examination
  • The use of tobacco should be eliminated

Can Gum Disease Lead to Problems Beyond the Mouth?

Researchers have discovered that individuals with periodontal disease are more likely to develop heart disease or have complications with controlling blood sugar. Studies have also indicated that women with gum disease were more likely to deliver preterm, low birth weight newborns, compared to those with healthy gums.

It is essential to control the development of gum disease in order to preserve natural tooth structure, bone density, and gum tissue. Failure to do so may lead to development of various health complications including tooth loss.