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Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)

Chances are you’ve been hearing a lot about periodontal (perry-oh-DON-tal) disease. Most people don’t realize how common periodontal disease, or gum disease, is. According to the CDC, almost half of adults in the U.S. have some form of this disease, the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.


In most cases, periodontal disease does not cause any pain and goes unnoticed. In other words, you may have gum disease and not realize it. However, if caught in its early stages, periodontal disease can be reversed with proper care (daily brushing, flossing and regular professional dental cleanings). If left untreated, the condition can advance to more serious form of the disease - periodontitis.


Some warning signs of periodontal disease may be:


  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth.

  • Red, swollen or tender gums.

  • Gums that have receded or shrunken away from your teeth.

  • Pus between your teeth when you press your gums with your finger.

  • Pain when chewing.

  • Calculus or tartar buildup.

  • Teeth that seem loose or that change position.

  • Changes in your bite.

  • Changes in the way your partial dentures fit.

  • Bad breath or a chronic bad taste in your mouth.

  • Teeth that are overly sensitive to hot and cold.



Periodontal disease happens when bacteria in plaque builds up and irritates the gum tissue, leading to inflammation and infection. If not removed daily, plaque hardens to form calculus (tartar) around the neck of the teeth. With time, plaque can spread and grow beneath the gum line. The toxins secreted by the bacteria stimulate a chronic inflammatory response that breaks down the tissues and bone that support the teeth. Eventually gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets (spaces between the teeth and gums) that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. In time, teeth can become loose and may be removed.


Gum disease is the "silent killer" of your teeth and is the #1 cause of tooth loss in adults

Other causes of Periodontal Disease:

  • Physical and chemical irritants:  Impacted food, tobacco products, alcohol and the improper use of dental floss or toothpicks may irritate gum tissue.

  • Abnormal oral conditions or habits: Badly aligned teeth, poorly fitting bridges or partial dentures, defective fillings and harmful habits, such as grinding the teeth and chewing ice, can also cause problems.

  • Unbalanced diet: Evidence shows a link between nutritional deficiency and the body's ability to fight off infection.

  • Women and hormones: Some life stages for women require extra attention to oral health including puberty, pregnancy and menopause. Pregnant women with gum disease are seven times more likely to deliver preterm, low birth-weight babies.

  • Certain Medications: Oral contraceptives, anti-epilepsy drugs, steroids and cancer therapy drugs may have a negative effect.

  • Certain diseases and conditions: Diabetes, uremia, liver cirrhosis, anemia and leukemia are among the many diseases that may affect the health of your gums. Stress is linked to many serious conditions, including lowered immunity to infection, such as a periodontal disease.



A thorough oral examination, including x-rays, is crucial to diagnosing periodontal disease. In most cases, we recommend an in-office exam and tooth cleaning for all adults twice a year. At that time, we may use a special instrument called a periodontal probe to measure the depth of the pocket between the tooth and the gum tissue.  The pocket dept measurement, clinical examination and x-rays help us determine the precise location, extent and severity of gum disease.



Fortunately, you don't have to lose your teeth to periodontal disease. With today's state-of-the-art treatment procedures, you can feel assured that most teeth can be saved. Numerous studies have also shown that by controlling periodontal disease, the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, respiratory disease, osteoporosis and early child birth get reduced as well.


The type of treatment you require depends on your particular case. Individualized treatment may include any of the following:


  • More frequent cleanings. It may take the bacteria at the base  of the pocket up to three months to colonize into numbers able to destroy bone. Frequent cleanings can prevent this buildup.

  • Scaling and root planning is the non-surgical removal of the calculus deposits from your teeth. Root planning is the smoothing of the root surfaces so that the gum tissue can reattach to the tooth. Even when this procedure is successful, the majority of patients will need ongoing maintenance therapy to maintain health.

  • Locally delivered antimicrobial medicine. It will help to control infection in the root pockets where bacteria reside.

  • Periodontal surgery. If you're diagnosed with gum disease, your periodontist may recommend surgery. Periodontal surgery is necessary when your periodontist determines that the tissue around your teeth is unhealthy and cannot be repaired with non-surgical treatments. Common periodontal surgery includes:

                  Periodontal Flap Procedures

                  Pocket Reduction Procedures

                  Regenerative Procedures

                  Soft Tissue Grafts

  • Dental implant is an artificial tooth root when one or more teeth are lost. They can also be used to support a full or partial denture. Implants are the permanent way for you to replace missing teeth, with a look and feel that's very close to natural teeth.


Good periodontal health starts with you. Here's what you can do to prevent or control periodontal disease:


  • Thoroughly brush and floss your teeth every day.

  • Eat a well-balanced diet, avoiding sticky sweets and junk food.

  • Examine your mouth routinely for any early signs of gum disease or other oral changes.

  • Visit us at least twice a year for a thorough cleaning and oral examination.


Please contact our office at (832) 663-9024 or to schedule an appointment. We’d like to help you and/or your loved ones with healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime.

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