What is
Periodontal Disease?

(Video of bacteria found in gum disease)

Periodontitis is a collective term for a family of severe bacterial gum infections. Periodontal literally means ‘around the tooth,’ and diseases here manifest in a variety of ways, including:

  • Swollen or red gums
  • Gums coming away from teeth
  • Bleeding while brushing
  • Bad breath
  • Tooth loss

Given that unchecked periodontal disease has an outcome of tooth loss, individuals should take action if they notice any of the above symptoms. If you’re uncertain whether you should be worried about potential periodontal disease, keep reading to fully understand the issue and its risks.

The different stages of periodontal disease

While we use periodontal disease as an umbrella term, there are many different stages to this problem, and each requires different treatments and approaches. The different stages your dentist may mention during a check-up include the following.


This is the earliest stage of periodontal disease, which manifests in gum swelling and bleeding. By tackling problems at this stage, patients should be able to reverse damage with dental oversight and impeccable oral hygiene at home.

Periodontal disease

  • Chronic periodontitis
    This most common form of periodontal disease manifests in deterioration caused by plaque build-up. Symptoms include the destruction of gums and bone, and eventual loss of teeth.
  • Aggressive periodontitis
    A relatively rare issue that begins in childhood and early adolescence who are otherwise clinically healthy. Typically running in families, this disease involves rapid gum attachment loss and bone destruction leading to tooth loss.
  • Periodontitis as a manifestation of systemic diseases
    This issue can be found in patients with heart or respiratory disease, diabetes, and more.
  • Necrotizing periodontal disease
    An infection generally found in individuals with suppressed immune systems, this condition involves the death of gum tissue, ligaments, and supporting bone.

The oral-systemic connection

Underlying health conditions can contribute to the progression of periodontal disease, but it’s also vital to note that this connection works both ways. While health impacts gum condition, the oral-systemic connection means that the condition of your gums can also impact overall health. Effective treatment of gum disease and continued dental hygiene has been proven to help prevent everything from memory loss to heart disease. As such, proper oral hygiene is vital for ongoing health across the board, and addressing periodontal disease the moment you spot the signs is an absolute must.

Periodontal disease treatment

With the risks and broader implications of periodontal disease in mind, patients must seek professional attention the moment they begin to experience symptoms of these issues. Treatments typically involve regular cleaning of plaque around the gums and developing an understanding of improved dental hygiene. In extreme cases, further treatments are necessary, including:

Each can improve gum health in even extreme cases of periodontal disease, and our resident periodontist Dr. I. Stephen Brown has experience in each of these treatments. If you’re worried about your gums or suspect that you might be experiencing problems, then don’t hesitate to contact us for an appointment.