Periodontal Disease: Everything You Need to Know

When we think about oral health, it’s too easy to overlook the role our gums play in avoiding tooth loss. But if you have ever suffered from acute periodontitis, it’s hard to forget just how vital gum health is.

Of course, suffering from periodontitis is incredibly stressful – especially if you’ve already lost a tooth to the disease. It’s impossible not to worry about losing more teeth – or maybe you’re unsure what to do next or what to expect during treatment.

Thankfully, there’s good news: treating periodontal disease early can prevent gum disease from progressing further. 

If you have questions like “does mouthwash help with periodontal disease?” or you want to know if gum disease be reversed, read on to learn everything you need to know about periodontal disease.


gingivitis and periodontitis - dental oral health issues
gingivitis and periodontitis – dental oral health issues

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease and gum disease are the same thing. Periodontal disease is the medical term for the infection and inflammation of gum tissues, and it is caused by bacteria.

Gum disease may seem minor in the early stages, but it can progress if left untreated. If gum disease is not caught early, it can cause gum recession, tooth loss, and bone loss.


What are the Different Stages of Gum Disease?

The two main stages of periodontal disease are gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis occurs in the early stages of gum disease. It is characterized by inflamed or bleeding gums and persistent halitosis (bad breath).

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When left untreated, gingivitis progresses to periodontitis – a much more severe form of gum disease. In the stage of periodontitis, the inflamed gums begin to recede away from the teeth, leaving gaps and pockets where bacteria can thrive. The bacteria can move below the gum line and start breaking down the inner structures of the teeth.  

In the periodontitis stage of gum disease, the main symptoms are the same as gingivitis and a few new ones. During this stage, you may notice pus between your teeth or feel that your bite has changed.

The deep pockets that have formed between your gums and teeth easily collect food particles and bacteria, and you may notice a receding gumline. Surprisingly, the early stage of periodontitis is often painless until it causes teeth to loosen. Untreated periodontitis will inevitably cause tooth loss.

oral health and gum problems dental
oral health and gum problems dental

Can Periodontitis be Treated or Reversed?

There are treatments for periodontitis, including surgical and non-surgical options. Your dentist will recommend the most appropriate treatment for your case based on the severity of the periodontitis.

Non-surgical periodontitis treatment options include root planing and scaling, which are often used in conjunction with one another. 

Root planing involves smoothing the surface of the teeth’s roots to prevent the buildup of tartar. At the same time, scaling removes bacteria from the surface of the teeth and beneath the gums. Surgical options for advanced periodontitis include reducing the size of the flaps and pockets in your gums and making incisions to clean the roots thoroughly.

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Both surgical and non-surgical treatment options often utilize antibiotics as a matter of course to prevent infection and eliminate bacteria beneath the gumline.

Suppose you receive treatment in the early stages of gingivitis. In that case, the effects of gum disease can often be reversed just by eliminating gum infections.

However, periodontitis’s effects on the teeth cannot be reversed without extensive treatment. There are restorative dentistry options that can reduce the damage from periodontitis – like pocket and flap reduction surgery, gum grafts, and bone grafts if you have experienced bone loss in your jaw. If you’ve experienced tooth loss, dental implants can prevent your teeth from shifting, encourage bone growth, and act as replacement teeth.


gum infections and treatments
gum infections and treatments

How Can I Protect my Gums?

Healthy gums are critical to good oral health. Your gums act like a seal that protects the inner structure of your teeth and jawbone from bacteria. It’s imperative to keep your gums healthy to maintain your oral health.

Once your gingivitis and periodontitis have been treated by a professional dentist, you must prevent gum disease from happening again. To maintain tooth and gum health, brush your teeth for two minutes twice daily. Floss your teeth at least once daily to remove food particles, and schedule dentist appointments every six months. If you aren’t using one already, you should start using mouthwash once daily. There are mouthwashes on the market designed specifically to keep gum disease at bay.

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Periodontal Disease oral health problems
Periodontal Disease oral health problems

What Can I Do About Tooth Loss?

If you’ve experienced tooth loss caused by gum disease, you don’t have to live with gaps in your smile. Once you’ve undergone treatment for periodontitis and your gums have healed, you have a few options to restore your smile.

An experienced dentist will assess your situation and provide recommendations based on your needs. Your dentist may recommend porcelain bridges or implant-supported dentures.  

Dr. Amanda
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