Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease (or periodontitis) is a gum infection caused by bacterial growth. If left untreated, it can lead to tissue damage and eventual tooth loss—in fact, gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Periodontal disease is common, especially in older adults. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that more than 47% of adults age 30+ have some form of periodontal disease; 70% of adults age 65 and older have periodontal disease.
The First Stage: Gingivitis
Gingivitis, which causes the gums to become swollen and red, is the first stage of periodontal disease. It happens when bacteria that are trapped in plaque buildup cause the gums to become inflamed. One of the most common signs of gingivitis is having bleeding gums during tooth brushing.
Second Stage: Periodontitis
When left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis, in which the inner layer of the gum and bone start to pull away from the tooth. This causes the formation of “pockets”—small spaces between the teeth and gums that can trap food particles and become infected. Over time, toxins in the bacteria can break down and start to destroy the tissue and bone that keep teeth firmly in place. The pockets become deeper, and, eventually, teeth can become loose and even fall out.
Periodontal Disease Causes
Plaque is the primary cause of periodontal disease, but other factors can contribute to its development, including:
- Poor oral hygiene habits (not brushing or flossing enough)
- Smoking, which can reduce the body’s ability to effectively repair gum tissue
- Family history of dental disease
- Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, menopause, and menstruation, which can make gums more sensitive and vulnerable to bacterial growth
- Illnesses that weaken the immune system, such as HIV or cancer
- Medications that reduce saliva production (such as certain anticonvulsants)
Periodontal Disease Symptoms
It’s not uncommon for gum disease to start and progress without a person knowing it since there are few signs or symptoms in the early stages. This is why regular dental check-ups and cleanings are so important.
Watch out for these warning signs:
- Brushing and flossing daily
- Avoiding clenching or grinding your teeth (ask your dentist about a dental nightguard if you clench or grind your teeth while you sleep
- Eating a well-balanced diet rich in antioxidant-rich foods like green leafy vegetables
- Managing stress, which can impair your immune system and make it more difficult for your body to fight off infection.
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, gingivitis and periodontitis can take hold—family history can play a significant role. Treatments for periodontal disease include:
- Deep cleaning, which is done under a local (non-sedative) anesthetic; the dentist/hygienist will scrape away plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line (scaling), and he/she will also smooth out rough spots (planing) on the tooth root in order to remove bacteria and create a smooth surface for the gum to reattach to the tooth. Scaling and planing are enough for some patients, while others will need surgical treatments.
- Pocket reduction surgery, which involves lifting back the gums and removing tartar.
- Bone surgery to smooth and reshape the bone around a tooth can help prevent bacterial growth (often performed after pocket reduction surgery).
- Bone grafts (using the patient’s own bone, synthetic bone, or donated bone) can help regrow bone and restore stability to the teeth.
- Tissue regeneration can help stimulate the regrowth of gum tissue and bone.
- Soft tissue grafts (usually taken from the roof of the mouth) can help fill in places where gums have receded.
Our expert dentist, Dr. Jorgenson, provides compassionate care for periodontal disease in a patient-centered, judgment-free environment. Whether you have advanced periodontitis or are simply concerned about preventing gum disease, Dr. Jorgenson and the caring team at Remarkable Smiles will do everything possible to empower you with the information you need to make an informed decision about your dental care. Your comfort is our priority.
Maintain Dental Hygiene in Issaquah
At Remarkable Smiles of Issaquah, your talented and friendly dental hygienist does their best to make your teeth-cleanings as comfortable and enjoyable of an experience as possible. With your movie glasses on, the time will fly by as you immerse yourself in another world of your choice, lay back, and enjoy the show.
Our family dental facility will also closely monitor your periodontal status with routine periodontal probing in a painless procedure where the depth of the pockets between your teeth is measured as well as and their surrounding tissue. We also use the latest methods and equipment for our periodontal therapy including our soft tissue laser.
Brushing, flossing, teeth cleanings, and periodontal check-ups are all part of a healthy regimen to protect your mouth and body from the dangers of plaque-induced periodontal diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
For the people of the Issaquah area and Seattle Eastside, this family dental facility offers nothing but the best services for all your dental hygiene and periodontal needs. However, when patients’ periodontal status is beyond the realm of our expertise, we gladly refer patients to specialized professionals we know and trust. Call our family dental facility today for a consultation at (425) 391-0484.