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What You Need to Know About Periodontal Disease

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is an infection of the structures that surround a person’s teeth, including the gums and bones. The earliest stage of periodontal disease, gingivitis, affects only the gums. As the condition worsens the surrounding areas of the mouth can also become infected. The bacterial infection can cause a number of unpleasant symptoms including:

  • Swollen, red or tender gumsDr Zinney, periodontal disease, surgery, treatments
  • Bad breath
  • Toothache
  • Receding gumline

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

A person’s mouth is naturally full of bacteria that forms plaque over time. Regular brushing and flossing is intended to remove the plaque on and between teeth. Plaque that isn’t removed eventually hardens into a substance known as tartar. The bacteria-rich tartar can get under the gums and teeth, resulting in conditions such as gingivitis and periodontal disease.

In addition to poor or infrequent cleaning, there are a number of factors that can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease.

  • Smoking can cause significant damage to a person’s gums and other mouth tissues, increasing the possibility of infection.
  • People with diabetes are at a higher risk of developing infections.
  • Stress and illnesses make it difficult for the body to fight and prevent infection.


The easiest, most effective way to prevent periodontal disease is through regular, thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums. Be sure to brush at least twice a day, floss and visit your dentist at least twice a year. Eating a balanced diet and avoiding tobacco products also helps prevent a buildup of unwanted bacteria around your teeth and gums.


Periodontal disease is treated by controlling the initial infection. Treatment varies depending on the severity of the disease, but may include any combination of the following methods:

  • Deep Cleaning: A dental hygienist removes as much plaque from the patient’s mouth as possible by scraping off tartar above and below the gumline, as well as removing any tartar built up on the teeth themselves.
  • Medication: A number of medications, in mouthwash and pill form, are designed to prevent and treat periodontal disease. Their main purpose is to control the growth of bacteria in the mouth and reduce the size of pockets in the mouth created by the disease.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery might be considered. Orthopedic surgeons can lift back the gums to remove tartar below the gumline and help regrow any tissue or bones that have deteriorated.

Every patient has unique needs. Contact us today to speak with Dr. Zinney about preventing and treating periodontal disease.