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Medically Reviewed by Lisa A. Turner, DDS, MSD

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacterial growth along the gum line and around the base of a tooth.  It is caused by a buildup of plaque, and if left untreated, will lead to a bacterial infection and gum recession. Pockets (also called “gaps” or “gingival pockets”) will form between the gum and the teeth which allows bacteria to build up and infection to set it. Larger gingival pockets indicate more advanced disease. Teeth can become loose, shift, or even fall out.

How does a periodontist determine how serious your periodontal disease is?

There are 4 stages of periodontal disease: gingivitis, early periodontitis, moderate periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. A periodontist uses a dental probe or stick to measure the depth of the gingival pockets that have formed between the gum and each tooth. The depth of those pockets helps determine what stage of periodontal disease the patient is experiencing, and what the best treatment option is.

How is it treated?

Mild (early) to moderate conditions can be treated with a deep cleaning of your teeth and gums. This type of cleaning is also called scaling and root planing. The doctor will use a manual hand scaling tool or an ultrasonic tool to clean the plaque (sticky, colorless or pale yellow film that forms on your teeth) and tartar (hardened plaque) that have formed around the tooth and beneath the gum line, and all the way down to the bottom of the gingival pocket. This part of the process is known as scaling.  Root planing involves smoothing out your teeth roots to help your gums naturally reattach to your teeth. A topical anesthetic is often used to numb the gums. There may be more than one scaling and root planing treatment sessions to help resolve your periodontal disease.

If your gums bleed when you brush your teeth, seem particularly sensitive, or you have a foul taste in your mouth and persistent bad breath, contact Venice Periodontics and Implant Dentistry immediately. Our team of dental professionals has decades of combined experienced working with patients to treat periodontal disease. We are happy to help!