Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease): Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal diseases affect between 30 and 50 percent of the world’s population. Periodontal disease, also called gum disease, is a fairly common condition that results from an infection in the mouth. Even though it is common, it can be very severe. It attacks the gums, teeth and surrounding tissues in the mouth, which weakens the teeth.

While gum disease is generally more common in adults, children with poor oral hygiene can also develop the condition. The risk factors include smoking, hormonal imbalance, underlying health conditions, heredity and poor nutrition. Treatment may require medication, routine oral cleaning or surgery. With early and well-timed treatment, the prognosis is good. However, if the condition is not treated early, gum disease can cause tooth loss. Maintaining good oral hygiene and prompt treatment for any early signs may help prevent periodontal disease.

Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

The signs of periodontal disease include:

Bleeding gums

Unusual tenderness in the gums

Swollen and red or purple gums

Receding gums

Pus between the teeth

Bad breath

Sensitive teeth

Unusual taste in the mouth

Loose teeth

Changes in how the teeth fit together

Stages of Periodontal Disease

There are three major stages of periodontal disease that range in severity and require different forms of treatment.

Stage 1: Gingivitis


Stage 2: Periodontitis

If gingivitis is not treated, it may get worse and lead to periodontal disease. The inflammation threatens the surrounding bones that support the teeth. The patient may notice the space between the teeth and the gum deepening. The infection begins to destroy the bone and the teeth begin to feel loose.

Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis

When periodontal disease progresses to the third stage, the patient is at a greater risk of losing teeth and the fibers and bones that prop them up. The pocket between the teeth and gums deepens even more and it can fill with pus. Bone loss continues and the patient’s teeth may hurt to brush and they may also feel sensitive to cold or heat. Sometimes, a dentist must remove the teeth to prevent the disease from spreading.


What Causes Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease develops from bacteria that infect the tissue in the mouth. If the bacteria stay in the mouth long enough, it can cause plaque buildup on the gums and teeth. Plaque development can cause periodontal disease in several stages. First, the sugars and starches in food interact with the natural bacteria in the mouth. This causes plaque to form on the teeth. If the patient does not treat it, the gum line may toughen into tartar, which is harder to remove with brushing or flossing. Removing tartar requires a visit to the dentist.

Then, untreated tartar and plaque buildup causes gingivitis. This marks the start of periodontal disease, which can cause inflammation and irritation in the gums surrounding the bottom of the teeth. Without treatment, gingivitis develops into periodontal disease, which creates pockets in between the gums and teeth that typically contain bacteria, plaque and tartar.

Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease

There are different factors that may increase the risk of getting periodontal disease.


Some individuals are more likely to develop periodontal disease than others due to their genes. However, genes don’t make periodontal disease inevitable. Patients who are highly susceptible to periodontal disease can control or prevent it with excellent oral care.


Patients who smoke regularly are more likely to have gum issues. Smoking weakens the immune system and the body is unable to fight off an infection in the gums. Smoking also weakens the effectiveness of treatment and patients may not respond to it.

Crooked or Crowded Teeth

Crooked or crowded teeth can make it more difficult to brush or floss, as well as fillings, crowns or dentures. Because the patient may not have easy access to these areas, plaque can accumulate much easier. A periodontist or a dentist can come up with the best ways to keep the teeth clean in these cases.


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Underlying Diseases 

diabetesrheumatoid arthritis

Poor Nutrition 

vitamin Avitamin Cvitamin Dvitamin Ethiamineriboflavinniacinbiotinfolic acid


According to research, stress can interfere with communications between the immune system and the central nervous system, affecting immune function. Researchers have not identified a specific connection between the two, but it may affect the way the patient’s body responds to bacteria.

Grinding, Clenching or Gritting the Teeth


Treatment for Periodontal Disease 

In most cases, the condition requires a periodontist to treat it. Treatment mainly aims to thoroughly clean the gaps around the teeth and prevent further damage to nearby bone and tissue. To achieve the best results, patients need to maintain a proper oral care routine as well.

Early Treatment

Early periodontal disease may not require surgical treatment. Patients may receive less invasive medical interventions. For example, oral and topical antibiotics may help keep bacterial infections under control. The patient may also need a procedure called root planing and scaling that smooths down the surfaces of the roots of the teeth to remove plaque from the surface of the teeth and under the gums. It also attempts to prevent it from accumulating further.

Advanced Treatment

More severe cases may require may require surgical treatment. First, a patient may require regenerative procedures that can support the teeth and potentially reverse some of the damage. For example, a periodontist may use bone grafts, soft tissue grafts, filters or tissue-stimulating proteins to encourage the body to repair and reverse damage.

If other treatment methods are not successful, the patient may need pocket reduction surgery to save the teeth. First, the periodontist lifts the gum and rolls it back, removing tartar, bacteria and diseased tissue from the root. Then, they may smooth and reshape the bone if necessary.

CONDITIONSWhat Causes a Coma?


Patients may be able to prevent periodontal disease by using good oral hygiene and visiting a doctor for frequent checkups and treatment. This is also an important part of treatment if an infection occurs. Patients should brush and floss their teeth daily to remove bacteria and visit a dentist at least once a year for checkups, more frequently if the patient shows warning signs of gum disease.

Supplements for Periodontal Disease

Several different supplements may be useful for supporting oral health. However, they are not designed to treat periodontal disease or any other condition. Always consult a doctor before taking any supplements.


Calciumcalcium citrate supplements

Vitamin D

Vitamin Dvitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) supplements


lycopenecancerheart diseaseAlzheimer’s diseaselycopene powder

Cranberry Extract

Cranberry extractcranberry extract powder

Beta Glucan 

Beta glucanbeta glucan powder supplements


Zinczinc gluconate powder

The Bottom Line

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, destroys the bone and soft tissue that supports the teeth. Left untreated, it damages the teeth and gums so much that the patient can lose their teeth. It results from bacteria that accumulate in the mouth and form plaque, a sticky membrane that forms over the teeth. If plaque isn’t removed, it may toughen and turn into tartar. Signs include swollen gums, an unusual taste in the mouth, bleeding, pain and receding gums.

Treatment usually involves a periodontist thoroughly cleaning the area below the gums to remove plaque and prevent the infection from spreading. In advanced cases, the periodontist may need to perform surgery to regenerate the bones and tissue in the mouth. Without treatment, periodontal disease can eventually cause tooth loss. However, patients can prevent periodontal diseases with proper dental and oral hygiene. There are also supplements that may help support oral and immune health that patients may try. However, they are not a proper treatment for periodontitis or any other condition. Always consult a doctor before adding any supplement to a health regimen.

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