Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Many of us picture older people as losing teeth when time catches up to them, but it’s actually possible for people to age and ultimately die with their own teeth intact. For that to happen, it’s important to avoid periodontal disease, which is caused by invasive bacteria that love to attack the tissues that surround your teeth. You might not even know that you have gum disease – a dentist can identify it, but the average person won’t see it until it’s too late. With gum disease, bone tissue deteriorates and then the gums slip away from the teeth, and form pockets where bacteria can thrive, and where brushes and floss can’t reach – sounds nasty, doesn’t it? The good news is that even when the condition is advanced, it can still be controlled.

Symptoms and Signs of Gum Disease

There are a number of identifying factors for gum disease. They include:

  • Bad breath – This is caused when plaque collects in the spaces between your teeth. Bacteria love to live in dirty areas, and when they take up residence, they produce nasty odors.
  • Bleeding gums – It doesn’t mean that you’re brushing your teeth too hard! Certainly, too vigorous brushing will aggravate bleeding, but it won’t CAUSE it. If your gums are bleeding, they’re probably diseased.
  • Red, swollen gums – This is one of the first indications of gum disease.
  • Receding gums – Do your gums look smaller than they used to? Do your teeth look bigger or longer? That could be an indication that your gums have pulled away from your teeth, and roots are exposed. Pain will follow.
  • Loose teeth – This is an indication of bone loss.
  • Abscesses – Running sores in your mouth will fill with pus, and become painful and swollen. This is another indicator of periodontal disease.
  • Sensitivity – If your teeth are sensitive to heat or cold, that can be another indicator of gum disease.


First, your oral hygiene has to be evaluated. Then, any build up of plaque or other deposits will have to be removed. Your dentist will use various instruments and techniques to make that happen. If it can’t be done in a typical office visit, then periodontal surgery may be necessary in order to remove the accumulated substances between your teeth and gums. Why is this necessary?

It’s not just a matter of unpleasantness in your mouth. Periodontal disease is actually linked to cardiovascular disease, premature birth, and other problems. That’s because it can cause inflammation in other areas of the body.


So, how do you prevent periodontal disease? The best way is to brush every day, and to floss. Also, you should get dental checkups regularly, and make sure that you get a professional cleaning every few months so that areas are reached that you can’t get with your toothbrush or your floss.

You can also prevent periodontal disease by eating right and not smoking or drinking. That way, you can keep your natural teeth for the rest of your life.

Text Copyright © 2015 Louis K. Cheung DDS PS – All rights reserved. Images used under license from Dear Doctor, Inc.