Periodontal Disease: What is it, Symptoms and Causes

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection that affects the tissues surrounding your teeth. While it may start mild, it can become a serious problem if left untreated. This article explores the causes, symptoms, and diagnosis of periodontal disease, along with ways to prevent it.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Healthy gums fit snugly around your teeth, providing support. Periodontal disease weakens these tissues and damages the bone that holds your teeth in place. In the early stage, called gingivitis, the gums become inflamed and may bleed. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease that can destroy bone and tissue, ultimately leading to tooth loss.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease:

Periodontal disease often develops gradually, and you might not experience any discomfort in the early stages. However, being vigilant about certain signs can help you detect it early and seek timely treatment:

  • Bleeding gums: This is a common and early indicator of gum inflammation. Notice if your gums bleed readily when brushing or flossing.
  • Redness and swelling: Healthy gums appear pink and firm. Redness, puffiness, or persistent tenderness in the gums can signal trouble.
  • Receding gums: Over time, the gums may start to pull away from the teeth, exposing the root surface. This can make your teeth appear longer and increase sensitivity.
  • Persistent bad breath: Chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be caused by bacterial buildup due to periodontal disease.
  • Loose teeth: As the infection progresses and damages the bone supporting your teeth, they may become loose or shift out of position.
  • Pain while chewing: Advanced gum disease can cause discomfort or pain when you chew due to inflamed gum tissue and weakened bone support.

What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Several factors can increase your susceptibility to periodontal disease:

  • Poor oral hygiene: Brushing twice a day for two minutes each time and flossing daily are crucial to remove plaque and prevent its buildup. Skipping these practices allows plaque to accumulate and wreak havoc on your gums.
  • Smoking and tobacco use: Smoking weakens the immune system’s ability to fight off gum infection and contributes to inflammation. Smokers are more likely to develop and experience more severe periodontal disease.
  • Genetics: Some individuals are genetically predisposed to a greater risk of developing periodontal disease. If gum disease runs in your family, it’s essential to practice meticulous oral hygiene and maintain regular dental checkups.
  • Certain medical conditions: Underlying health conditions like diabetes can exacerbate gum disease. Diabetes can impair the body’s ability to fight infection, making it more challenging to control gum inflammation.
  • Hormonal changes: Fluctuations in hormone levels during pregnancy and menopause can make women more susceptible to gum inflammation. Practicing good oral hygiene and informing your dentist in baulkham hills  about any hormonal changes is crucial.

Complications of Periodontal Disease:

Untreated periodontal disease can lead to serious complications, including:

  • Tooth loss
  • Bone loss
  • Increased risk of infection in other parts of the body
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes complications

How Do Dentists Diagnose Periodontal Disease?

While the symptoms of periodontal disease can provide clues, a dentist utilizes a multi-pronged approach for a definitive diagnosis. Here’s how dental professionals shed light on the presence and severity of gum disease:

  1. Medical and Dental History Review:

The dentist will initiate the process by inquiring about your medical and dental history. This conversation aims to identify any underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, that may contribute to gum disease. They will also ask about any medications you’re taking, as some medications can cause dry mouth, which can increase the risk of gum problems.

  1. Oral Examination:

A thorough oral examination is the cornerstone of diagnosing periodontal disease. The dentist will meticulously examine your gums for signs of inflammation, including redness, swelling, and bleeding. They will also assess the presence of pus, which indicates a deeper infection.

  1. Periodontal Probing:

A specialized instrument called a periodontal probe is used to measure the depth of the pockets between your teeth and gums. Healthy gums typically have pockets no deeper than 3 millimeters. In cases of periodontal disease, these pockets deepen significantly as the gums recede and bone loss occurs. The depth of the pockets provides valuable information about the severity of the disease.

  1. X-rays:

Dental X-rays offer a window into the underlying bone structure. These images can reveal bone loss caused by advanced periodontal disease, helping the dentist determine the extent of damage and plan appropriate treatment.

  1. Additional Tests (Optional):

In some cases, additional tests may be necessary for a more comprehensive diagnosis. These might include genetic tests to assess your predisposition to gum disease or microbiological tests to identify specific bacteria strains contributing to the infection.

By combining these diagnostic techniques, your dentist in quakers hill can accurately diagnose periodontal disease, determine its stage, and create a personalized treatment plan to restore your oral health and prevent further complications. Remember, early detection and intervention are crucial for successful management of periodontal disease. If you experience any warning signs, schedule a dental appointment promptly.


  • Is periodontal disease contagious?

While periodontal disease itself isn’t contagious, the bacteria that contribute to it can be spread through close contact, such as sharing utensils or kissing.

  • How can I lower my risk for periodontal disease?

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to practice good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, and floss daily. Regular dental checkups and cleanings are also crucial for maintaining healthy gums. Don’t smoke or use tobacco products, and manage any underlying health conditions.

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