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What is Periodontal Disease?


What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal diseases are mainly the result of infections and inflammation of the gums and loss of the bone that surround and support the teeth (CDC, 2013). In its early stage, called gingivitis, the gums can become swollen and red, and they may bleed. In its more serious and advanced form, called periodontitis, the gums can pull away from the tooth, bone can be lost, and the teeth may loosen or even fall out. Periodontal disease is mostly seen in adults, however rarely can also be seen in childhood. Periodontal disease and tooth decay are the two biggest threats to dental health.


Bacteria in the mouth infect tissue surrounding the tooth, causing inflammation around the tooth leading to periodontal disease. When bacteria stay on the teeth long enough, they form a film called plaque, which eventually hardens to tartar, also called calculus. Tartar build-up can spread below the gum line, which makes the teeth harder to clean. Then, only a dental health professional can remove the tartar and stop the periodontal disease process.

Warning signs

The following are warning signs of periodontal disease:

  • Bad breath or bad taste that won’t go away;
  • Red or swollen gums;
  • Tender or bleeding gums;
  • Loose teeth;
  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth;
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite, and/or;
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures.

Risk factors

Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. However, other factors can contribute to periodontal disease (NHS, 2022). These include:

  • Smoking;
  • Diabetes;
  • Poor oral hygiene;
  • Stress;
  • Crooked teeth;
  • Fillings that have become defective, and/or;
  • Bridges that no longer fit properly.

Prevention and treatment

Gingivitis can be controlled and treated with good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning. More severe forms of periodontal disease can also be treated successfully but may require more extensive treatment. Such treatment might include deep cleaning of the tooth root surfaces below the gums, medications prescribed to take by mouth or placed directly under the gums, and sometimes corrective surgery.

To help prevent or control periodontal diseases, it is important to:

  • Brush and floss every day to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease;
  • See a your dentist regularly for a check-ups, they will recommend the check up interval depending on your individual needs based on warning signs or risk factors;
  • Visit a hygienist regularly to ensure a thorough clean of tartar build up is carried out and to receive oral hygiene tailored to your needs. Even if you don’t notice any symptoms, you may still have some degree of gum disease. In some people, gum disease may affect only certain teeth, such as the molars. Only a dentist can diagnose and determine the degree of progression of gum disease.

For more information on gum disease or if you have any concerns about the health of your gums, feel free to contact us.


Gum disease (no date) Available at: (Accessed: June 14, 2022).

Periodontal disease (2018) Available at: (Accessed: June 14, 2022).

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