What is Periodontal Disease? Symptoms and Treatment

If it’s been a long time since you’ve had your teeth professionally cleaned, it is likely you’ve developed some form of periodontal disease. The thought of this can be scary. However, studies show that periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis, or more commonly, as gum disease, affects roughly 47.2% of Americans today. This condition refers to an infection of the gum tissue caused by excessive amounts of plaque and tartar buildup. Symptoms include red, puffy, painful or bleeding gums, bad breath and loose teeth. Stages of Gum Disease

  • Gingivitis: Healthy tissue is tight up against the teeth and pink or coral in color. In this early stage you will notice red and puffy gums. If you see bleeding when you brush and floss, you should give us a call to be examined. This is the first sign that your gums need some extra attention.
  • Periodontitis: When left untreated, gingivitis turns into periodontitis. Once the tartar buildup enters below the gum, the infection begins breaking down the bone that holds teeth in place.
  • Advanced Periodontitis: Continued neglect leads to an irreversible stage of gum disease. The jaw bone is further broken down and destroyed. Teeth in the condition loosen and may even fall out on their own. The teeth may be free of decay, but without a solid foundation of bone, there is nothing to hold them in place.

Treatment Options You may be wondering if an antibiotic will clear up the infection. Although they may be administered in some cases, antibiotics will not cure a gum infection. The plaque and tartar buildup must be removed in order for proper healing to take place.

  • Debridement: If caught early as gingivitis, gum disease can be easily treated and reversed. Maybe you haven’t been brushing or flossing like you should. Taking extra care of your teeth and gums will make a great difference. You can start by having us complete an in-depth cleaning called a debridement. During your visit at Lernor Family Dental we will speak with you regarding proper dental care techniques and work with you to get your healthy smile back on track.
  • Scaling and Root Planing:  During this treatment option, our hygienist will use an instrument much like a miniature pressure washer. The ultrasonic water scaler uses a flow of water along with tiny vibrations to loosen and clean off the excess buildup beneath the gum.

The level of scaling necessary will determine whether or not you will need anesthesia in order to undergo this treatment. If needed, it will be administered via an injection by the dental hygienist or dentist himself. A milder form of anesthesia is the use of a numbing mouth rinse, which can be used in most cases. After undergoing scaling and root planing, you will return regularly for maintenance visits. If bone loss has occurred, the effects are irreversible. However, with proper treatment and maintenance, the bone will maintain its current level and not continue to deteriorate any further. Your teeth and gums have the potential to last many years after having this treatment.

  • Periodontist: In severe cases, the buildup under the gums becomes so excessive that a large amount of infection is present. The ultrasonic water scaler may not suffice in removing all necessary disease due to how far down it is. In this case, it is likely that you will be referred to a periodontist. This specialist will determine your condition and will perhaps recommend gum surgery.
  • Extractions: Unfortunately, there are those cases in which gum disease has taken over and the teeth are not salvageable. Bone is essential for holding teeth in place. As it continues to deteriorate, teeth will get looser causing pain and affecting eating habits. If this occurs, extractions are inevitable. Some teeth may even fall out on their own.

Who Can Develop Periodontal Disease? Periodontal disease is mostly contributed to improper dental care and neglect. So, essentially anyone can suffer from it.   However, some people do have certain conditions that make them more likely to develop gum disease. In this category are diabetics, pregnant women, and tobacco users. Osteoporosis can cause bone loss in the jaw causing teeth to loosen and fall out. These individuals should be very loyal to maintaining a proper dental hygiene regimen. Does Periodontal Disease Have Any Other Effects? Our gum health contributes to our overall wellness. Infection caused by unhealthy gums can enter the bloodstream causing blood clots which lead to heart attacks. Having gum disease can also contribute to serious conditions like cancer of the pancreas, kidney and blood. It has also been linked to respiratory disease like pneumonia, which is a result of the bacteria from the mouth being aspirated into the lungs. Preventing Gum Disease Though people with certain conditions are more susceptible to developing some form of gum disease, it is preventable. Proper daily at home dental care, in addition to regular cleanings by a dental professional, will help to keep your mouth healthy. It is also important to remember that periodontitis, once treated, can return. Maintenance is the key to preventing relapse of this disease. Good home care practices and regular dental cleanings are a must for someone that has been previously treated. It is important to emphasize that at home dental care alone is not enough to prevent gum disease. Brushing and flossing, no matter how many times a day, will still leave some plaque and tartar buildup in certain, hard to reach places that you may not be aware of. This is why it is so important to visit your dentist regularly for a professional preventative cleaning. Our hygienists have special instruments that will remove anything left behind by your toothbrush that, if remains, could lead to periodontitis. Together with routine cleanings and dedicated daily home care, you can reduce your risk of relapse. At Lernor Family Dental, we are a dedicated dentist near you in Scottsdale and eager to help. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, or if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned above, please give us a call today. Together we can prolong the life of your smile and overall health.


Are you searching for a "dentist near me" in Scottsdale? We've got you covered! Dr. Lernor and his team specialize in the prevention and treatment of gum disease and related oral conditions. If you suspect a gum issue or are just looking for a gentle family dentist, give us a call at (602) 483-4112 or request an appointment online!