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Periodontal Gum Disease

Periodontal disease is also called periodontitis or gum disease. It is a serious infection that can destroy the gum tissue around your teeth. Without treatment, it can also destroy the bone supporting your teeth. Periodontal disease can frequently cause tooth loss unless addressed while still in its early stages.

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Although periodontal disease is common, it is generally preventable. It often occurs due to poor oral hygiene, but some people are more at risk of developing this condition than others. Knowing the symptoms and maintaining good oral care can help ensure your gums remain strong and healthy.

What Are the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal Gum Disease
When gums are strong, healthy, and infection-free, they fit snugly around your teeth. Healthy gums can be a variety of colors ranging from pale pink to dark pink or brown.

Symptoms that your gums may be infected include the following:

  • Swollen, puffy gums.
  • Gums that are bright or dark red, or they can be a dark purple color.
  • Gums feel tender when pressed lightly.
  • Gums that bleed easily, often after brushing your teeth, flossing, or at other times.
  • Persistent bad breath.
  • A persistently nasty taste.
  • Pus is building up between your teeth and gums.
  • Chewing may be painful.
  • Teeth can look longer than before as gums recede.
  • Black triangles can develop between your teeth as gums are destroyed.
  • Your bite may change as gum and bone around your teeth are destroyed, or teeth will feel loose.

Sometimes, periodontal disease will cause few, if any, symptoms. This may be the case in smokers as smoking constricts the blood vessels in gums, so they are less likely to bleed, even though the infection is present.

What Causes Gum Disease?

The development of gum disease is outlined below.

Dental Plaque Buildup

Usually, gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque, a sticky film containing bacteria. Plaque continually forms over your tooth surfaces, and the bacteria within it interact with sugars and carbohydrates found in foods, using leftover food particles as an energy source.

Tartar Buildup

If you brush and floss thoroughly each day, most dental plaque is removed, but any remaining will harden into tartar or calculus. This cannot be removed by brushing and flossing and requires a professional dental cleaning to get rid of it. Plaque and tartar contain harmful bacteria that will continue to multiply. The mere presence of tartar makes it easier for more dental plaque to stick to your teeth.

Infection and Inflammation

As these bacteria thrive, they create toxins as a byproduct. These toxins infect your gum tissues. Your body reacts to fight the infection, promoting an immune response that results in inflammation. The inflammation destroys the gum and bone around your teeth.

As the gums are destroyed, they pull away from teeth, causing pockets or spaces between them and gum tissue. These pockets are called periodontal pockets and can become filled with bacteria that, unfortunately, thrive in these conditions.

Stages of Periodontal Disease

There are two periodontal disease stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.

Stage I: Gingivitis

The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. At this point, your gums may bleed slightly or look red or swollen, but you may have no other symptoms.

Gingivitis is easy to treat and reversible with professional dental care that includes a hygiene appointment and improved oral care at home.

Stage II: Periodontitis

Advanced gum disease or periodontitis is much trickier to treat. By this stage, your gums may have begun to recede, or teeth will even feel loose due to the destruction of gum and bone around them.

Periodontitis can become chronic, requiring ongoing periodontal care to control it and prevent it from causing further destruction.

Who Is More Likely to Get Periodontal Disease?

Although anyone can develop periodontal disease, certain factors can increase your risk. These include:

  1. Poor oral care and failing to brush and floss regularly and thoroughly.
  2. Smoking or using other tobacco products.
  3. Poor nutrition, so your gums are less able to fight infection.
  4. Genetics, so your risk can be higher if close family members have gum disease.
  5. Obesity.
  6. Diseases like diabetes, Crohn’s disease, or rheumatoid arthritis impact your immune system, making it harder to fight gum infections.
  7. Health problems that lower your immunity, like HIV AIDS, or receiving treatment for cancer, leukemia,.
  8. Prescribed and over-the-counter medications can affect gum health or cause dry mouth. Without good saliva flow to help wash away bacteria, your risk of gum disease increases.
  9. Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause increase the risk of gum disease by increasing the gum tissue’s sensitivity to the bacteria that cause this disease.

Periodontal disease is also increasingly linked to other health problems, as the bacteria responsible for periodontitis can enter your bloodstream through bleeding gums. Clinical studies are linking periodontitis with respiratory disease, problems controlling diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and preterm birth.

What Kind of Problems Are Caused by Gum Disease?

Gum disease can result in the following problems.

Severe Bacterial Buildup

Gum disease or periodontal disease is caused by bacterial buildup. These bacteria are found in plaque and tartar and, unless removed regularly, can soon reach unmanageable numbers, causing a severe infection that your body cannot fight adequately.

Destruction of Gum Tissues

Gum disease can destroy the gums, so they start to recede. As they do so, they create deep spaces or periodontal pockets between teeth and gums that can soon become filled with pus and bacteria.

Swollen and Bleeding Gums

Infected gums are swollen and red and bleed easily when brushed and flossed, and at other times. After cleaning your teeth, you may notice blood on your toothbrush or in the bathroom sink.

Loose Teeth

Teeth can feel loose as gum disease worsens and starts to destroy the bone around your teeth and ligaments holding them in their sockets. They may become so loose that they fall out.

Our gum infection treatments aim to address these problems and help restore good gum health.

There are several treatment goals outlined below:

  • Get rid of or control the bacterial infection causing gum disease.
  • Reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Reduce the depth of pockets around teeth due to receding gums.
  • Help promote re-attachment of healthy gum tissue to teeth.

How Is Periodontal Disease Diagnosed?

A gum evaluation is an important part of every dental checkup at My New Jersey Dentist. Our dentist or hygienist uses a small periodontal probe to carefully measure any gaps in between your gums and teeth, recording the measurements and comparing them at each visit.

These measurements allow us to identify any small changes to your gum health. We also carefully inspect your gums for signs of infection and inflammation. If necessary, we can then recommend a suitable treatment plan and refer you to our periodontist when needed.

Periodontal Disease Treatment

Numerous treatments are available for periodontal disease. Each is carefully tailored depending on the extent of the infection and inflammation. Gingivitis treatments are generally very quick and easy to complete.

Treating periodontitis is more complex and may require a combination of nonsurgical and surgical treatments to help eliminate or control the infection. Treatment must also deal with any destruction of tissues around your teeth. When these tissues are destroyed, advanced procedures like gum grafts and bone grafting may be needed to help preserve and protect your teeth.

Non-surgical Treatments for Early-stage Gum Disease

Non-surgical treatments for gingivitis or early-stage gum disease include:

  • Dental prophylaxis or routine dental cleaning. A professional dental cleaning removes the bacteria causing the infection. Once removed, your body can fight the infection more easily. You are probably already familiar with a professional dental cleaning, as most people need this treatment twice yearly whenever they see their dentist for a dental checkup.
  • Scaling and root planing. A scaling and root planing treatment is a deep dental cleaning. It is similar to an ordinary prophylaxis treatment but cleans tooth roots exposed due to gum recession. Depending on the extent of the infection, this treatment could cause some sensitivity, so we can provide local anesthesia to numb your gums during the procedure.
  • Antibiotics. Antibiotics can be very useful in fighting gum disease. You may be prescribed antibiotics to take orally. Sometimes, these antibiotics are placed into the gaps or periodontal pockets created by gum recession. These antibiotics can be inserted into the gums after a scaling and root planing treatment.
  • Laser therapy. Laser therapy is often used with traditional gum disease treatments like scaling and root planing. We may recommend laser treatment for gingivitis or more advanced gum disease.

What Are the Benefits of Receiving Treatment for Gum Disease?

There are numerous benefits in treating gum disease; the earlier, the better. Without treatment, gum disease will not improve and will continue to destroy your gum tissue and bone, resulting in tooth loss.

When you receive prompt treatment, the benefits include:

  • Getting rid of harmful bacteria causing the infection.
  • Preventing further bone loss in your jaw.
  • Getting rid of bad breath or a nasty taste.
  • Protecting your general health since gum disease has been linked to serious health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

Will My Gum Disease Treatment Be Successful?

The success rate for a gum infection treatment can be very high, depending on the treatment prescribed and your commitment to oral care afterward. Some treatments focus on preventing gum disease, while others seek to manage it rather than cure it completely.

Preventing Gum Disease

Ideally, when you see your dentist regularly, we can help prevent this condition by ensuring you maintain good oral health.

Good oral care simply means brushing your teeth for at least two minutes twice daily, preferably first thing in the morning and last thing at night. You must also floss daily to remove food and plaque between your teeth, which your toothbrush cannot reach.

Regular dental visits are essential, especially as it is easy to overlook the early signs of gingivitis, and they should include professional dental cleanings to remove plaque and tartar buildup. We can also assess your risk of gum disease, for example, if you have certain conditions or take specific medications, and we may recommend other preventive treatments like more frequent professional dental cleanings.

Contact Us If You’re Concerned About Your Gum Health

If you are concerned about your periodontics health or it has been a while since you have seen a dentist, please get in touch with us to book a dental examination and hygiene appointment. We can evaluate your gums, discuss your oral care routine, and clean your teeth professionally. Early detection of gum disease is important, protecting your oral and general health.

Page Updated on May 27, 2024 by Dr. Victoria Kushensky, DDS (Dentist) of My New Jersey Dentist
Victoria Kushensky D.D.S

My name is Victoria Kushensky. I am a general dentist dedicated to remaining at the forefront of my field. Combining compassionate care with extensive knowledge, I offer cosmetic and general dentistry services as well as advanced root canal treatments.

I earned my Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the esteemed New York University College of Dentistry. Throughout my career, I have honed my skills in various dental procedures, ensuring effective treatment for each patient’s unique needs. I prioritize patient comfort and understanding, taking the time to thoroughly explain procedures and address any questions.

More about Dr. Kushensky

My NJ Dentist: Victoria Kushensky, DDS
385 Prospect Ave Suite 304
Hackensack, NJ 07601
(201) 298-8000