Gum Disease What is Periodontal Disease?

The word "periodontal" means "around the tooth." Periodontal Disease (also known as "gum disease", "pyorrhea" or "periodontal infection") is an ongoing bacterial infection in the gums and bone around your teeth. This infection leads to an inflammation under the gums. If it isn't treated, the inflammation can destroy the bone around your teeth resulting in tooth loss.

Periodontal infection is the cause of 75% of all adult tooth loss.

More importantly, research has associated periodontal infection to several serious medical problems, including; heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

As ongoing research continues to define how periodontal disease is associated with these and other health problems, good oral health is essential. Good periodontal health is a key component of a healthy body.

Periodontal Disease is an "Ongoing Infection"

What Can Cause a "Burst" of Infection Activity?

People with periodontal disease have low resistance to periodontal bacteria. This causes an ongoing gum infection that grows in "bursts" of activity. Each time it grows, more support for your teeth bone is lost. Some factors that can cause a "burst" of activity are:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Dental plaque
  • Smoking
  • Genetic factors
  • Stress or tension
  • Diet
  • Medication
  • Illness

Getting Periodontal Infection Treated Right Away

When your infection has a burst of activity, or when there are signs that this is about to occur, it is very important that you contact us without delay to schedule a comprehensive evaluation. We will be able to determine the treatment necessary to control your periodontal infection and set you on a path toward excellent oral health. In most cases, we can treat the disease without surgery with early detection.

Symptoms of Periodontal Infection

Periodontal infection is usually painless until it reaches an advanced stage. However, there are some symptoms which can indicate the presence of periodontal infection. These include:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Bleeding when brushing (pink toothbrush), or at other times
  • Aching, itchy, sore or tender gums
  • Receding gums (teeth beginning to look longer)
  • Pus between your teeth and gums when you press down on the gums
  • Bad breath
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures
  • Loose, separating or protruding teeth

If you notice any of the above warning signs of periodontal infection, please contact our office for a periodontal examination.

Important Note: Your gums can look and feel quite normal and yet deep pockets of periodontal infection can still be present. To be certain about any periodontal disease, have your periodontist examine you for signs of infection.

Who is a Periodontist?

A periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease. Periodontists have also taken advanced training in the placement of dental implants. Periodontists receive extensive training in these areas, as part of 3 additional years of education beyond dental school.

Periodontists also provide other treatments, such as crown lengthening, soft tissue grafting and bone regeneration (see the Individual & Cosmetic Procedures section for more information on these procedures).