Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is an infection of soft and hard tissues that surround teeth. It is bacterial infection that begins with bacterial laden plaque. It is usually painless but is the major cause of tooth loss in adults. There are many forms of periodontal disease classified according to the severity of the disease. Two major types of periodontal disease are: gingivitis and periodontitis. 


Gingivitis is a milder form of periodontal disease that affects only the gums surrounding teeth. It is reversible and most frequently affects teenagers and young adults. In this stage gums may be red, swollen and bleed easily on brushing or flossing, but often have no symptoms. If the gingivitis is left untreated, it may lead to a more serious form of periodontal disease called periodontitis. 


Periodontitis is chronic inflammation of connective tissue and bone that supports the teeth. Many people have it and don't know it, it's like having high blood pressure, one can have it and not know it. Unlike gingivitis, with periodontitis the bone that holds the teeth in place begins to break down. Many patients still don't report any symptoms, but some patients see the gums pull away from teeth and or loose or separating teeth, and possibly persistent bad breath. Periodontitis most commonly affects adults. The majority of tooth loss in American adults is due to periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease Causes 

Many factors increase the risk of developing periodontal disease: 

  • poor oral hygiene 
  • tobacco use 
  • diabetes and other systemic diseases 
  • medications 
  • genetics 
  • pregnancy

Periodontal Disease Treatment

Treatment options for periodontal disease depends on the type and progression of disease. We often start treatment with thorough cleaning of affected areas, usually this is on the teeth under the gums. A "regular" cleaning may not be sufficient to remove the bacterial laden deposits. Along with this we usually recommend that one gets their teeth cleaned more often than twice a year, usually three or four times a year. If these two actions stabilize the gum disease, then we need no more treatment, but it is imperative to come in for your cleanings at the interval we have determined.

Good oral hygiene including daily flossing and brushing is essential to keep periodontal disease from becoming more serious. For some, the above treatment will not be enough to stabilize their disease. In these cases we begin to consider other options. When periodontal disease has progressed to this point, the bone under the gums has likely been "eaten away". Without reshaping the bone and removing infected tissue, most patients find that the disease process continues.

This treatment is not as bad as it sounds, but some patients prefer to be sedated so they won't remember much. There are some things in life we want to remember, but dental treatment isn't often one of them.

Every patient is different and all cases of gum disease have their own characteristics. We treat every patient based on his/her needs and desires. We work with you to explore all your options, and as much as we want to fix the disease we find, we remember that the decision is yours.