Periodontitis, or periodontal disease, is a severe form of gum infection that if left untreated can lead to bone and tooth loss. It also can increase your risk of heart attack, stroke and other systemic diseases.

Many adults have some level of periodontal disease. Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease and typically is caused by poor oral hygiene that leads to plaque buildup and gum inflammation. Gingivitis can be reversed, but can progress to periodontal disease if not addressed with routine dental cleanings and a change in oral habits.


The progression of gum inflammation to periodontal disease begins with plaque buildup spreading below the gum lines. Plaque produces toxins that further irritate the gums and stimulate chronic inflammation. The inflammation becomes chronic because those with this condition do not possess the tools or training to remove the plaque that has built up below their gum line, so it can only progress.

Chronic gum inflammation causes the body to initiate a self-destructive response where osteoclasts begin to dissolve the boney sockets holding teeth in place. As the bone recedes, the gums fall away from the tooth and create deep pockets. This exacerbates plaque accumulation below the gum line, and gum and bone recession. Teeth become loose and may eventually fall out because there is not enough bone to hold them in place.

If left to progress until bone has receded severely, dentures or dental implants may be the only option for restoring function and aesthetics to your smile. 

Symptoms of gum disease

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • Tender, bleeding gums


Gingivitis and early stages of periodontal disease may be reversed with specialized tools and treatments- a process called scaling and root planing.

  • Scaling – Scaling is the process of removing tartar and plaque from above and below the gum line with a manual scraper or laser.
  • Root planing – Rough spots where germs and bacteria proliferate are removed from the tooth root during root planing procedures.

Antibiotics are placed within deep pockets following root planing, and we likely will send you home with an oral antibiotic or strong antimicrobial mouth rinse to prevent infection from occurring.

Depending on the stage of your periodontitis, you may need routine professional teeth cleanings more than two times each year. This is because once deep pockets have formed, plaque can easily accumulate below the gum line, where it will either prevent bone from regenerating or contribute to additional bone loss.

Call today for an initial consultation.