Periodontal Disease: Causes, Stages, Prevention, and Treatment

  • November 12, 2023

Those suffering from periodontal disease may experience painful swollen gums, persistent bad breath, and if left untreated, many more health issues. As one of the most common threats to dental health, recent studies show that 47.2% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease, and that 70.1% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease. If you suspect you may have any form of periodontal disease, ensure that you address it as early as possible to prevent serious health problems. In today’s blog post we'll cover what causes periodontal disease, the stages of periodontal disease, and the many possible ways to reverse it.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal diseases are the result of infection and inflammation in the gums and bone near the teeth. When bacteria infects tissue surrounding the tooth the inflammation it causes leads to periodontal disease. The onset of periodontal disease can be exacerbated by smoking, poor oral hygiene, genetics, crooked teeth, medications that cause dry mouth and more. When bacteria stays on the teeth long enough it starts to build up plaque, which will eventually harden to a tartar. This tartar can spread below the gum line at which point only a dental professional can remove it, and stop the disease from progressing.

What are the Stages of Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease progresses through two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.

In its early stage, gingivitis, the gums can become inflamed, red sore, and bleed easily. Once it has progressed to periodontitis the gums can begin pulling away from the teeth and forming pockets for bacteria to thrive in. These bacteria can then begin attacking the bone and connective tissues holding the teeth in place. This can lead to lost bone, lost teeth, and severe mouth pain. 

How to Prevent and Treat Periodontal Disease.

One of the easiest ways to prevent periodontal disease is regular and consistent cleanings with a hygienist every six months. This will help to ensure that if gum disease does start to form, it will be caught early on and can then be more easily treated. If it has been over 6 months since your last check up we strongly implore you contact a dentist for a thorough cleaning and examination.

Generally gingivitis can be controlled and treated with daily brushing and flossing, plus regular dental visits. Once it has progressed to periodontitis more rigorous brushing will be required, as well as likely a professional deep cleaning, also know as SRP, or scaling and root planing, to remove any plaque and tartar from below the tooth line. Depending on the severity of the case it may take multiple visits to remove all of the buildup. Many medications may also be prescribed such as antimicrobial mouthwash, antibiotics, or antiseptics. 

If left untreated gum disease can progress to the point that non-surgical options may be ineffective. At this point a flap surgery or bone/tissue graft may be necessary to stop the progression of the disease. A flap surgery involves creating an incision on the gum, cleaning the infected tissue below, and sealing the incision to make any existing pockets smaller. Bone grafting is for patients who have experienced tooth loss due to gum disease. Here, either a natural or synthetic bone is grafted into the gums to help your body regenerate new bone.

Gum disease is very serious, and can have significant impacts not only on your oral health, but your overall health. Those suffering from severe gum disease are often twice or even three times as likely to suffer from heart attacks or strokes. Make sure to take good care of your mouth and your body, and for expert dental help, don't hesitate to contact us!


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