What is Periodontal Disease?

Posted by Legacy Dental Clinic Dec 20, 2022

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Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is a bacterial infection in the mouth that damages the gums and the bones that support the teeth.

What is Gum Disease?

When bacteria builds up between the teeth and at the gum line, it forms a substance called plaque. This sticky film covers teeth like a shield and causes them to become inflamed and irritated as a result. This is known as gingivitis. If left untreated, the inflammation will spread to the gums and bone structure beneath your teeth.

Dentists call this condition periodontitis. It’s considered an advanced form of gingivitis. As the infection continues to spread, it can eventually destroy the tissue that supports the teeth, causing tooth loss. This is why it’s so important to see your dentist for regular cleanings and checkups. He or she will be able to spot and treat gum disease before it causes serious problems.


Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease and is marked by red, swollen gums that bleed easily. In the advanced stages, the gums recede away from the teeth and form pockets which become infected. Patients may notice bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth in the later stages of periodontitis. If left untreated, the teeth can loosen and fall out due to the damage the disease causes to the bone and tissue.

After patients visit their dentist, a thorough examination of the mouth will be done to check for signs of gingivitis or periodontitis. You may be referred to a periodontist for specialized treatment if your condition needs further help. Treatment may include deep cleaning of the teeth to remove plaque and tartar deposits on the enamel surface. Antibiotics may be prescribed to fight the infection caused by the disease. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to repair the damaged teeth and gums before gum disease is fully eliminated.

How to Protect Your Teeth From Gum Disease

The best way to prevent this dangerous disease is to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once per day to remove the food particles and bacteria from your mouth that your toothbrush can’t reach. You can also decrease your risk of contracting this disease by practicing good oral hygiene. If you are diagnosed with periodontitis, follow your doctor’s recommendations for managing your condition to avoid serious complications.

Treatment Options

If you have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, your dentist may recommend different treatment options depending on the severity of your condition. Here are some of the most common treatment methods that may be recommended to you by your dentist at your appointment.

  • Professional Cleanings

If your teeth are loose and your gums bleed when you brush or floss them, then you may be suffering from gingivitis. Your dentist may recommend that you have frequent professional cleanings to remove plaque buildup from your teeth. They may also recommend that you use a special toothpaste that will kill the germs that cause gum disease.

  • Root Planing

If your dentist determines that you have periodontitis, they may recommend root planing. During this procedure, they will clean the roots of your teeth by removing tartar and bacteria that has developed underneath your gums. Afterwards, you will typically be given antibiotics to fight the infection. You may be asked to come in for a follow-up appointment to reassess your treatment plan.

  • Dental Implants

For the most extreme cases of periodontal disease, your dentist may advise you to get dental implants to replace your missing or damaged teeth. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that can be surgically placed into the gums. Once the implants have healed, they will act as a permanent foundation for your replacement teeth. This treatment option is the most effective when all of your natural teeth are missing. However, some dentists are able to replace several missing teeth with dental implants. Talk to your dentist about your individual needs to see if they would recommend this for you.

  • Crown Lengthening

If you have severely receded gums, you may be eligible to have crown lengthening surgery. This procedure involves removing some of the gum tissue around the crown of a tooth in order to give it more support. This can help to prevent further recession of the gums, but it can also make your teeth more sensitive in their new position.

If you have any questions about your oral health or if you believe that you may have periodontal disease, consult our professional team at Legacy Dental. Our goal is to help you achieve your ideal healthy and happy smile!

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