Periodontal Disease

Periodontal (gum) disease affects many adults and often goes unnoticed since there is little to no pain.  Common signs include bad breath and bleeding gums.  Gums should not bleed, and the most common cause of bleeding gums is inflammation from bacteria.  Gum disease is a bacterial infection.  In its earliest stages, this infection is known as gingivitis, which is a reversal gum infection.   The latter and more harmful form is periodontal disease, in which bone and other tooth supporting structures are destroyed.


Gum disease is a bacterial infection.

The human mouth contains billions of bacteria, in which there are hundreds of species that combine to make a thin layer (called a biofilm) that coats the tissue of the mouth.  The bacteria populate the mouth and coexist like any other ecosystem in nature, such as a forest.  The total bacterium of the mouth is known as the oral microbiome, and every person has a unique combination of bacteria.  Some species are beneficial and contribute to health, whereas other bacteria are deleterious, promoting destruction of bone surrounding the teeth.

Most dental offices assess gum health by “probing” or measuring the pockets between the teeth and gums.  Our office goes a step further and evaluates the biofilm of the teeth with a microscope.  As mentioned above, specific bacteria cause periodontal disease, and we look for those species.  We can catch the condition earlier, preventing destruction, and we monitor the disease progression at the microscopic level.  


We monitor the disease progression at the microscopic level.

Periodontal disease can cause systemic inflammation and has been associated with heart disease, diabetes, and dementia.  In fact, these oral pathogenic bacteria have been found in the heart and brain of people with these conditions.  

If you are experiencing any symptoms of periodontal disease such as red, swollen gums, bleeding gums, or persistent bad breath, it is important to visit a dentist as soon as possible for an evaluation and treatment.  With proper treatment and good oral hygiene, you can protect your teeth and gums from the damaging effects or periodontal disease.