How to Identify and Treat Periodontal Disease: An Extensive Guide to Healthy Gums

Periodontal disease is extremely common. Two out of five adults in the United States experience some form of gum disease.

But despite its prevalence, very few people understand its causes or the long-term effects it can have when left untreated.

If you’re looking for signs of periodontal disease or want to learn all about the various ways to maintain good oral hygiene, here’s everything you need to know.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

When we neglect to brush and floss on a regular basis, bacteria and food collect in the nooks and crannies of the gums and between teeth. When mixed with saliva, this debris turns into plaque, which releases acids that damage the teeth’s enamel. Over time, it hardens into tartar or hardened deposits that coat the teeth. Tartar is incredibly difficult to remove with regular brushing and increases the risk of inflammation in the gums.

Periodontal conditions include inflammation or infection that develops on the soft tissue that keeps the teeth in place. It damages gums as well as the underlying bone structure. And these issues are the leading causes of tooth loss in the US.

What Causes Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease Stages

The good news is that this condition doesn’t appear overnight. Getting treatment during the early stages of periodontal disease is critical to preventing long-term damage.

The four stages are as follows:

  • Gingivitis
  • Initial periodontitis
  • Moderate periodontitis
  • Severe periodontitis
  • Gingivitis

    Gingivitis is mild inflammation in the gums. It is the earliest stage of severe gum conditions and is still reversible. But it is also easy to ignore, as most people don’t feel any pain even if they have advanced gingivitis.

    The primary sign to look out for is red, swollen gums that bleed when flossing or brushing.

    Initial Periodontitis

    This is when bacteria get into the gums and start to affect the bone. Gums recede, making room for even more pockets of bacteria.

    Patients still don’t feel much pain and may struggle to identify that this stage has begun. By this point, the condition is irreversible but still manageable.

    Moderate Periodontitis

    If left untreated, the condition starts causing more damage to the ligaments or joints between the tooth and its socket. At this stage, the damage becomes evident. Dentists will be able to determine the extent of the gum disease on x-ray scans.

    Moderate Periodontitis

    Severe Periodontitis

    At this stage, you may begin to notice bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth. The pain may still be negligible, but teeth appear longer. Eventually they will loosen and be at risk of falling out.

    At this point, treatment becomes critical, and surgery might be on the table.

    What Causes Periodontal Disease?

    There are several different causes of periodontal disease, most of which boil down to poor oral hygiene and the buildup of tartar.

    Here are some associated risk factors.

    Smoking and Tobacco Use

    Over 60% of smokers are at a heightened risk of developing periodontal disease symptoms. While this is reduced slightly after they quit, nearly half of all former smokers still develop severe gum conditions.

    Regular smoking also reduces the impact of periodontal treatments.

    Certain Diseases

    Auto-immune conditions, such as lupus, scleroderma, AIDS, and Crohn’s disease, increase the risk of gum disease.

    Heart disease and diabetes are also associated with a higher risk.


    Those whose parents, siblings, or grandparents suffer from periodontitis are at risk of developing gingivitis. Without proper treatment, it can worsen.


    Hormonal Changes

    Some of the biggest life events, such as puberty, menopause, or pregnancy, make gums more sensitive, which increases the risk of infection and inflammation. Women may notice signs of gingivitis when they are menstruating.

    Certain Medications

    Certain medications that dry the mouth or block the regular flow of saliva can lead to an abnormal growth in gum tissue.

    Signs of Gum Disease

    Gum disease symptoms can be difficult to detect, especially in the early stages. Since periodontitis is mostly painless until the condition becomes quite severe, patients may tend to ignore warning signs.

    So take extra care in case of any of the following symptoms:

  • Bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth that persists even after brushing.
  • Reddish or swollen gums.
  • Pain in the jaw while chewing.
  • Tender gums that bleed when brushed. (Many people associate bleeding with heavy brushing, but perfectly healthy gums should not bleed!)
  • A purplish tinge to the gums.
  • A receding gum line.
  • Teeth that look longer than usual.
  • Loose teeth or a change in the way they sit in the mouth—a widening gap, for instance.
  • Sensitive teeth, especially when eating warm or cold foods.
  • Most healthy gums are light pink and firm to the touch. Any change in color or firmness could be considered a warning sign of an ongoing periodontal condition.

    Signs of Gum Disease

    How Gum Disease is Diagnosed

    The first step is getting a specific diagnosis. A dentist or a gum specialist will measure the pockets of bacteria around your teeth using a periodontal probe. A dental X-ray may also be recommended to get a clearer picture of the extent of the condition.

    Depending on the severity and factors like your bite, how loose your teeth are, or how far your gums have receded, the specialist will advise further courses of action.

    How to Treat Periodontal Disease

    There are several dental treatments in Valley Village for gum-related issues, ranging from simple hygiene measures to laser gum treatment to more intensive surgical options. The specific case and severity of your condition will dictate which option is best for you.

    In milder cases—especially during the reversible gingivitis stage—a dentist may attempt to control bacterial growth through a simple teeth cleaning procedure.

    But if the problem persists or has been left untreated for too long, treatment options can include laser-targeting, supportive tissue surgery, or bone grafting.

    Any periodontal treatment must be accompanied by good hygiene habits, such as:

  • Daily brushing and flossing
  • Using antibacterial mouthwash
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Making regular visits to the dentist
  • How to Treat Periodontal Disease

    Conclusion: How to Smile Like You Mean It

    There is no specific cure for this disease, especially once it has progressed past the gingivitis phase. The only long-term solution is to manage symptoms as best as possible.

    Making certain lifestyle changes, such as adopting better nutrition habits, avoiding smoking, and maintaining regular oral hygiene, can work wonders. Managing stress levels also boosts the immune system and prevents infections and inflammation.

    If you are experiencing gum problems, don’t hesitate to contact Valley Dental Spa.

    As one of the leading dental clinics in Valley Village, our team of experts has developed a host of treatment and management plans to maintain and even improve your healthy smile.

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