A gum disease in which a person experiences severe inflammation of the gums is called periodontitis. The common symptoms are bleeding, swollen, or red gums. Tooth loss may occur if this condition is untreated. In most cases, treatment includes deep dental cleaning or surgery (in severe cases). Additionally, regular flossing and brushing can help to prevent periodontitis.

What is Periodontitis?

A serious form of gum disease is called periodontitis. The inflammation of the tissues around the teeth begins because it is a bacterial infection. It is not recommended to leave this condition untreated because it may lead to eroded bones that support the teeth.

How Common is Periodontitis?

It is a very common health condition that affects roughly 47% of adults over 30 years old in the United States. However, about 70% of adults over 65 years old suffer from periodontitis.

Who Does Periodontitis Affect?

Usually, people under 30 years old are less likely to develop this gum condition. The risk of periodontitis usually increases with age. Furthermore, people who have poor oral hygiene (do not brush their teeth and floss regularly) can also develop this condition. In addition, there is a genetic factor that may also increase your risk of gum disease.


Check below some periodontitis symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Tender gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Reddish or purplish gums
  • Infections (pus) around your gum line
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss
  • Gum recession
  • Pain when chewing
  • New spaces or gaps between the teeth
  • Some changes in the way your teeth fit together


In most cases, the primary cause of periodontitis is poor oral hygiene. Not cleaning the teeth as well or as often as is required, the bacteria may travel to the gum line, where floss and toothbrush cannot reach. As a result, bacteria erode the tissues leading to an infection, bone loss, or tooth loss. Check below other factors that could increase your periodontitis risk:

  • This gum condition may appear due to some inflammation in your body (including COVID-19, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and others).
  • Certain hormonal changes in females (including pregnancy, birth control pills use, and others).
  • A family history of gum disease also may elevate your risk of developing periodontitis.
  • Those who suffer from diabetes may also develop an infection (such as periodontitis)
  • One of the most significant factors is smoking because it decreases the body’s ability to fight against infections.


If you leave untreated this gum condition it may lead to some unpleasant complications over time. Check below 4 stages of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis – This stage is mild and the gums may become swollen and red. However, this stage is reversible and by cleaning and flossing your teeth, you may get rid of this problem. You can also get a dental clean at your dentist.
  • Mild Periodontitis – This is the second stage of periodontitis if gingivitis is left untreated. It is characterized by beginning to lose some bone around your teeth. Therefore, you will develop some pockets in which bacteria are trapped and you cannot reach them with a toothbrush or floss.
  • Moderate Periodontitis – In this stage, a person begins to lose more bone around their teeth. Therefore, the gums may become tender and sore.
  • Severe Periodontitis – In this stage bone loss continues, which leads to tooth loss and gum bleeding. In addition, a person who experiences this stage may notice pus and infection around the gum line, which provokes chronic bad breath (halitosis).

Plus to that, poor oral health may also impact your overall health. Thus, those who experience periodontitis for long periods are at higher risk of developing stroke, dementia, heart disease, and other serious health conditions.


Commonly, dentists diagnose periodontitis during a dental examination. However, they will:

  • Ask questions about your symptoms and medical and family history
  • Check gums for inflammation
  • Verify with a tiny ruler if you have pockets around the teeth, which usually do not hurt
  • Perform a dental X-ray test to see whether you have bone loss or not

In case you have any questions, ask your healthcare professional.


Periodontitis treatment usually depends on the severity. However, there are available surgical and nonsurgical options used in periodontitis treatment.

Nonsurgical Treatments

This treatment option is mostly used in people with mild to moderate gum disease. For example:

  • Scaling and Root Planning – This method involves deep dental cleaning which is very similar to a routine cleaning but in such cases, you may receive local anesthesia to the gums. Hence, it allows your dentist to clean deep beneath your gum line and remove bacteria.
  • Antibiotics – Your dentist may prescribe some oral antibiotics that will help to treat bacterial infections.

Surgical Treatments

These treatments are commonly used in moderate to severe cases of periodontitis. Check below some examples:

  • Platelet-Rich Plasma (PRP) – This surgery is used to regenerate bone or gum tissue loss. Physicians get platelet-rich plasma from a sample of your blood.
  • Guided Tissue Regeneration – A special biocompatible membrane is placed between existing bone and tooth. However, this procedure is done to help bone grow back and temporarily stop unwanted tissue in that region.
  • Gum Grafts – This surgery involves a tissue graft placed around the affected teeth. Additionally, this procedure decreases the risk of recession (when gum tissue pulls away from the teeth).
  • Dental Bone Grafts – This is a surgery in which your dentist will advise a bone graft. It is usually used when a person has a lot of bone loss.
  • Flap Surgery – In this procedure your dentist makes an incision along the gum line and temporarily lifts the gum tissue away from the teeth. Therefore, it allows the periodontist to clean teeth roots easily and completely.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it possible to prevent gum disease?

Yes, the best way to keep your teeth healthy is to have regular dental cleanings alongside good oral hygiene at home. Those who are prone to developing gum disease may require more often cleanings than others. You should ask your dentist or periodontist about the time between cleanings because it may differ significantly among people.

Can periodontitis be cured?

Unfortunately, this gum condition is not curable but with care and treatment, symptoms will disappear. For more details, consult with your healthcare provider.

When should I see my dentist?

In case you experience any of the following symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your periodontist or dentist. Examples include bleeding, sore, or red gums. Furthermore, it is not recommended to wait a long time because it may develop and cause certain complications, which may negatively affect your overall health. Ask your dentist if you have any questions.

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