What is periodontal disease?

When you floss do you experience bleeding or areas of discomfort? Well, this is usually a sign of periodontal disease, gum disease.

Periodontal (gum) disease is a serious infection and inflammation between the teeth, under the gum tissue, and the bone around the teeth. Gingivitis, the initial stage of the disease, is characterized by redness and swelling of the gums, which can also bleed.

It is essential to take care of your oral hygiene to prevent such diseases. If left untreated, it can affect bone health that supports the teeth, making it painful to chew. In the worst cases, teeth may become loose or need to be removed.

Periodontal disease and tooth decay are the two biggest threats to dental health. A recent CDC report provides the following data related to the prevalence of periodontitis in the U.S.:

  • This condition is more common in men than women (56% vs 38%).
  • 47% of adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease.
  • Periodontal disease increases with age, 70% of adults 65 years and older have periodontal disease.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Bacteria in the mouth infect the tissue surrounding the tooth, causing inflammation around the tooth and leading to periodontal disease. When bacteria stay on the teeth long enough, they form a film called plaque, which eventually hardens to tartar. Tartar build-up can spread below the gum line, making it difficult to clean the teeth. At this point, only a dental health professional can remove the tartar and stop the progression of periodontal disease.

Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease

  • Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard foods
  • Red, swollen, or tender gums
  • Loose or sensitive teeth
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Gums that are receding or pulling away from your teeth
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures

Health Complications of Periodontal Disease

As we mentioned above, gum disease can become a very serious disease when it reaches periodontitis. The bacteria from the inflamed gums can enter the bloodstream and affect other organs such as the brain and heart. Infections from untreated periodontal disease can cause blood sugar to rise and make it harder to control diabetes.

On the other hand, diabetes that is not controlled well leads to higher blood sugar (glucose) levels in the mouth fluids. This promotes the growth of bacteria that can cause gum disease. Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition affecting those living with diabetes.

Here is a short (1:36 minutes) podcast summary (and transcript) from the CDC providing a brief description of periodontal disease as a complication of diabetes and its impact; Chronic Disease Prevention, Diabetes, Oral Health.

What is the Treatment for Periodontal (gum) Disease?

Gum disease treatment depends on the extent and severity of your condition. There are non-surgical and surgical options for treating periodontitis. A dentist can offer treatment for periodontal disease as well as gingivitis before it advances to gum disease. A dental hygienist may work with your dentist as part of your treatment plan. The goal of treatment is to thoroughly clean the pockets around teeth and prevent damage to surrounding gum tissue and bone. The first goal of treatment is to control the infection. 

Non-Surgical Treatment Options:

Antibiotics. Topical or oral antibiotics can help control bacterial infections. Topical antibiotics can include antibiotic mouth rinses or putting gel containing an antibiotic into gum pockets. Sometimes oral antibiotics are needed to get rid of bacteria that are causing the infection.

Scaling. Scaling removes tartar and bacteria from your tooth surfaces and below your gumline. It may be done using instruments, a laser, or an ultrasonic device.

Root planing. Root planing smooths the root surfaces. This helps prevent further buildup of tartar and bacteria. It also helps your gums attach to your teeth again.

Scaling and root planing is also known as deep dental cleaning, scaling, and root planing are similar to a routine cleaning. The difference is that you’ll receive local anesthesia to numb your gums. This allows your dentist or hygienist to sweep away the bacteria deep beneath your gum line. They’ll also smooth your teeth roots to deter further plaque and bacteria from collecting. Scaling and root planing is often done in two or more visits at your dentist’s office. It’s often recommended that you follow up with your dentist a month after this cleaning to check your gums and see how well the treatment worked.

Surgical Treatment:

Periodontitis can not be cured, but it can manage the condition with proper care and maintenance. If the periodontitis is too advanced, surgery may be necessary. 

How Can I Prevent Periodontal Disease?

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

  1. Brush twice a day to remove the bacteria that cause gum disease.
  2. Flossing regularly to remove plaque from between teeth. Or, you can use a device such as an interdental (between-the-teeth) brush, a wooden or plastic pick, or a “water flosser” recommended by a dentist.
  3. See a dentist for regular dental checkups and cleanings and practice good oral hygiene at home between visits
  4. You may need to see your dentist more frequently if you are consistently noticing any symptoms of bleeding and inflammation of the gums.


Contact Our Cosmetic Dentists in St. Paul, MN

If you have further questions about Invisalign braces and want to learn more about how wearing Invisalign can provide value to you, reach out to our team at Chalet Dental Care today. We can assess your situation and see if you are an ideal candidate for Invisalign. Contact us at (651) 413-9150 today for our services.

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