Gum disease is a common infection that damages the soft tissues and bones supporting your teeth. Without prompt treatment, gum disease will complete loss of the bones and muscles supporting your teeth, causing you to lose the teeth. Gum disease begins with the accumulation of bacteria and plaque-causing inflammation. When the condition is not detected and treated early, it can progress and cause serious damage to your gums and teeth.

Your oral health is a significant part of your overall health, and it is always essential to ensure you maintain good oral health and hygiene. Gum disease not only causes severe physical pain but can also affect your image due to some symptoms like bad breath and crooked teeth.

If you experience gum disease symptoms, it would be wise to consult your dentist. At Washington Dental, we work hard to ensure that all our clients receive the best services to restore and maintain a healthy and beautiful smile. We serve clients seeking gum disease treatment throughout Los Angeles, Carson, Torrance, and Lomita, CA.

Overview of Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection of the tissues that support your teeth. Gum disease, commonly known as periodontitis, is mainly caused by bacteria and plaque from leftover food particles. Bacteria plaque is a colorless membrane that develops on your tooth surface and is the leading cause of gum disease. Plaque can be removed by regular brushing and flossing. However, when plaque is not removed, it can be harder to a more sticky substance that will require professional cleaning to remove.

For individuals with increased susceptibility to gum disease or a weak immune system, the body overreacts to the bacteria, causing inflammation. The result of the excessive inflammation will affect the bloodstream and slowly cause damage to blood vessels. In its advanced stages, gum disease can cause your teeth to move away from your gums and tooth loss. In addition, untreated periodontitis could increase the risk of developing heart disease and other health complications.

Stages of Gum Disease

Periodontal disease happens in different stages, beginning with slight inflammation of the gums to severe bone damage and tooth loss. The four main stages of gum disease include:


Gingivitis is the inflammation of gum tissues. This is the first and only reversible stage of gum disease. Gingivitis is not destructive but, when left untreated, can progress to serious gum disease. Gingivitis is characterized by red puffy gums that bleed when you brush or floss. Also, you may experience bad breath that could go away when you brush.

The most common cause of inflammation of the gums is an accumulation of plaque around the teeth. When leftover food particles are trapped between your teeth and in the gums, they attract bacteria that cause inflammation. If the plaque is not removed effectively through regular brushing, it combines with the bacteria to form tartar that is sticky and more difficult to remove. 

In mild gingivitis, you may not even know that you have it. However, regular dental visits can help your dentist identify this problem and offer treatment before it progresses. In most cases, inflammation of the gums will resolve with proper oral hygiene practices.

Mild Periodontal Disease

Mild periodontal disease is the second stage of gum disease, and it is irreversible. Once you reach stage two of gum disease, more bacteria grow in your gums, causing damage to the gums and tissues around the tooth. The bacteria will evolve and can no longer be controlled by simple oral hygiene practices. Sometimes, mild periodontal disease causes slight damage to the bone that supports your teeth. Some signs of slight periodontal disease include extreme swelling and gum redness, bleeding of the gums, and bad breath.

Moderate Periodontal Disease

Like the mild stage, moderate periodontal disease is not reversible. If you are at this stage of gum disease, you may experience symptoms in a person in the mild stage. However, the gum pockets are more profound, allowing more bacteria to grow. Increased growth of bacteria on the gum pockets will not only cause damage to the gums and bones and attack your bloodstream and immune system. 

Stage three periodontal disease cannot be managed with brushing and flossing. You may require root planing and scaling to remove tartar and plaque. When left untreated, moderate gum disease could progress to increased gum sensitivity and tooth loss.

Advanced Periodontal disease

During the final stage of gum disease, infection of the gums deepens, causing sensitivity, severe pain when chewing, and tooth loosening. At this stage of the disease, you are at a high risk of experiencing bone loss. If it is not treated, stage four gum disease results in gum recession and tooth loss. When you are at the advanced stage of gum disease, you will need flap surgery and tissue regeneration to prevent further damage to your bones.

Treating gum disease is of utmost importance. Regular dental visits and professional teeth cleaning can help you prevent gum disease. Also, practicing proper oral hygiene could help halt the progression of the disease.

Risk Factors Associated with Periodontitis

Periodontitis is likely to become more severe if you have high levels of bacteria in your mouth. Also, a weakened immune system could cause a progression of the condition. Some of the factors that increase your risk of developing gum disease include:

  1. Hormonal changes in females. Women are more susceptible to dental complications due to their unique hormonal changes. Hormones change the blood supply to the gums and can affect how your body reacts to toxins. When women undergo puberty, pregnancy, and menopause, they may be at a high risk of developing gum disease.
  2. Age. Tooth loss is often associated with periodontitis in older adults. Gum disease in older adults results from prolonged bacteria buildup caused by poor oral health hygiene and decreased immunity. As you get older, you can reduce your risk of developing gum disease by paying extra attention to your oral health.
  3. Smoking. Smoking and tobacco use are linked to many illnesses, including lung disease, heart complications, and can also cause the progression of gum disease.
  4. Genetics. Despite aggressive dental care habits, some people may still develop gum disease. If there is a history of gum disease in your family, you should seek dental care for early intervention.
  5. Poor nutrition and obesity. A diet that is low in essential nutrients could compromise your immunity, making it difficult for your body to fight gum infection. Since periodontal disease begins as an infection, poor nutrition could worsen the condition. Additionally,
  6. Drugs. Medications used to treat hypertension can increase the risk of developing gum disease.

Common Symptoms of Gum Disease

The symptoms associated with periodontitis vary depending on the stage of the disease. In the first stage of gum disease, you may not realize that you have the condition since most symptoms are not extreme. Common symptoms associated with periodontal disease include:

  • Bad breath. Bad breath or halitosis is one of the symptoms associated with periodontitis. Oral bacteria trapped in your gums release chemicals and gases of volatile compounds with a strong smell. Bad breath could significantly impact your self-esteem. However, the removal of plaque through regular brushing could eliminate bad breath.
  • Receding When your gums are infected, they may move away from your teeth, making them look longer than usual.
  • Swollen and reddened gums. When bacteria attract your gums, they become inflamed, manifesting in swelling and changing color to purple or red.
  • Change in bite. This could result from your teeth shifting, and hence they fail to fit together during a bite.
  • When you suffer from gum disease, you may notice that your gums bleed when you brush your teeth or floss even in the earliest stages.

Complications Associated with Gum Disease

Gum disease is a common and unpleasant condition. Failure to care for your teeth and gums can lead to more than bad breath and decayed teeth. Even though the nature of the link is not always clear in all situations, gum disease may increase your susceptibility to other health complications. Some of the common health conditions that are linked to gum disease include:

Diabetes Mellitus

Periodontal disease is at its worst when gums recede and move away from the teeth causing pockets. Leftover foods may be stuck in these pockets, causing bacteria and inflammation of the gums. If left untreated, the tissues and bones supporting your teeth break down. In addition, individuals who have diabetes have a poor healing capacity. Therefore, there will be more breakdown of periodontal tissues.

Also, individuals with diabetes have high sugar levels in their tissues which facilitates more bacteria growth. Therefore, not all individuals who have diabetes will have gum disease. However, if you have diabetes, it is always wise to make your oral health a priority. Making regular visits to your dentist can help detect the onset of gum disease and treat it before it progresses.

Heart Disease

Although not everyone with heart disease suffers from dental complications, there is a correlation between the two. Some of the information that helps link gum disease to heart conditions is that the bacteria causing inflammation on the gum could find their way into the bloodstream and to other parts of the system. Also, inflammation is a body’s reaction to irritants and, if it continues for a prolonged period, can damage the tissues and organs. This could, in return, overwhelm your heart in its attempt to supply blood to these parts.

Whether or not gum disease is a risk factor for heart disease is still under investigation. However, these conditions share common risk factors like smoking and excessive weight.

Brain Damage

Even when the mouth is near your brain, most people will not associate dental complications with a neurological condition. However, some studies have shown a link between gum disease or tooth loss to cognitive function. The risk of cognitive ability decline increases in older people as more teeth are lost. Periodontal disease and dental caries are the primary cause of tooth loss and may be related to cognitive decline. In addition, researchers have linked progressive gum disease with a buildup of beta-amyloid that causes Alzheimer’s.

Preterm Births

When a woman suffers from gum disease during pregnancy, the condition may result in pregnancy complications. Inflammation caused by the infection on the gums can enter the bloodstream and cause high blood pressure. Also, preeclampsia may be a body’s reaction in trying to fight the condition. High blood pressure is one of the leading causes of preterm births. If you experience gum disease symptoms during pregnancy, it is crucial to seek immediate care. 

Diagnosis and Treatment of Periodontitis

If you experience the symptoms of gum disease, you should immediately seek dental care. The dentist will do the following to determine whether or not you have gum disease and its severity:

  • Review your medical history. When you visit your dentist with symptoms of gum disease, the dentist will review your history to check out for factors that could be contributing to your symptoms. Some of the factors that a dentist may be keen to look out for include diabetes, smoking, or a history of severe gum disease in your family.
  • Examine your mouth. Our dentist will determine the extent of tartar and plaque buildup on your teeth and gums by examining your mouth.
  • Measure the depth of your gum pockets. Periodontal disease is often characterized by gum pockets that are filled with bacteria. Deeper gum pockets are associated with a more severe form of gum disease.
  • Take dental x-rays. When your dentist observes deep pockets, they may decide to do an x-ray to determine the extent of bone damage. The dentist will assign a stage and grade of gum disease depending on the severity of your condition and the complexity of treatment required.

Gum disease is a condition with the potential to cause a severe impact on your oral and overall health. Seeking immediate treatment when you experience the symptoms of this condition is essential to deter its progression. The main aim of treating gum disease is to clean out the gum pockets to remove bacteria and prevent further destruction of tissues and bones around the teeth. If the gum disease is not advanced, your dentist may use the following forms of treatment:

  • Oral antibiotics are used to control the bacteria infection in your gums. Antibiotics can be in the form of a tablet or gels to insert between your teeth or gums. Sometimes, your dentist can recommend medicated mouthwashes. An antibiotic gel or mouthwash helps control bacteria growth and shrink the pockets.
  • Enzyme suppressants. To help control the destructive enzymes, the dentist may advise that you use an enzyme suppressant. Some of the enzymes produced by bacteria in your mouth could cause gum breakdown. The enzyme suppressant helps delay your body’s enzyme response.
  • Gum disease is often caused by a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. When left unclean, plaque causes gum inflammation which is the first stage of gum disease. Tooth scaling is a procedure that involves the removal of tartar and plaque from your tooth surface. Scaling is a non-invasive procedure carried out using laser or ultrasonic instruments.
  • Root Planing. Root planing is a procedure where the dentists smooth the surface of your root. When the surceases on your tooth are uneven, plaque and bacteria buildup may increase. Therefore, smoothing the surface will discourage tartar buildup. If you suffer from gum disease in a specific location, the dentist could do root planing only on the affected area.

If you suffer from advanced periodontitis where there is bone loss and receded teeth, your dentist may opt for the following surgical procedures as a mode of treatment:

Flap Surgery

Your dentist will perform flap surgery to remove calculus from the deep gum pockets and reduce the size of the pockets. During the pocket reduction surgery, the dentist makes tiny incisions on the gum to aid its lifting. When your gum is lifted, it exposes the tooth root. The dentist will then perform root planing and scaling before placing back the gum tissue. Since progressive periodontitis causes bone loss, the dentist may perform some bone reconstruction. After a flap surgery, the gum tissues will heal and tighten around the tooth.

Tissue Grafts

When gum disease is severe, you may lose your gum tissues causing your teeth to recede. Receding teeth is not attractive and can cause severe damage to your dental alignment. When treating gum disease, your damaged tissues may need reinforcement. Soft tissue graft involves removing tissues from other parts of the mouth and attaching them to the damaged area. Tissue grafts aid in reducing gum recession and covers the roots of your teeth.

Bone Grafting

If gum disease has damaged the bone that supports your teeth, bone grafting can help in holding the teeth in place to prevent loss. The graft is made of your bone fragments and serves as a platform for the growth of the natural bone. Sometimes, the dentist may place a piece of fabric between your damaged bone and the tooth. This helps discourage unwanted materials from entering the healing area and gives space for the growth of a healthy bone.

Prevention of Gum Disease

Gingivitis can be reversed, and you can prevent gum disease from progressing in nearly all cases when you control plaque and bacteria in your mouth. Proper plaque control involves practicing proper oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Also, it would be best if you replaced the toothbrush regularly since worn-out bristles cannot effectively remove plaque.

Flossing your teeth helps to remove food particles that are stuck between your teeth and under the gums. In addition, you should always rinse your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash that helps fight the bacteria that build up from the plaque. Other practices and lifestyle changes you can adopt to reduce the risk of gum disease or stop its progression include:

  1. Make regular dental visits. You do not have to wait until you experience pain or a dental complication to see your dentist. It is vital to schedule at least two appointments per year. During your dental visits, your dentist will examine you for the symptoms of dental complications such as gum disease. When periodontitis is detected at an early stage, it can be treated and reversed to avoid the severe consequences of the progressive stages of this condition.
  2. Stop smoking. Smoking is not only harmful to your lungs and heart but can also damage your gums and teeth. Smokers have low immunity, and smoking can lower the effectiveness of treatment.
  3. Maintain a balanced diet. The bacteria that grow in your gums feed on sugar and starch to help them release more acid harmful to your gum tissues. By avoiding sugary foods, you can slow down the growth of bacteria. Also, proper nutrition will strengthen your immunity to fight infections.
  4. Avoid grinding and clenching your teeth. Grinding your teeth puts force on your gum tissues and may increase the rate at which bacteria destroy your tissues.

Find a General Los Angeles Dentist Near Me

Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is a condition that affects your gums, teeth, and surrounding areas. Primarily, periodontitis results from bacteria and plaque buildup on the gums. Some of the symptoms of gum disease that you should look out for may include gum pain, receding gums, bad breath, and loose teeth, among others.

The symptoms of gum disease often cause serious pain and could also affect your overall health. In addition, the infection associated with gum disease can increase your risk of developing other diseases, including coronary heart disease, stroke, and respiratory problems. Therefore, seeking prompt dental care can be essential to ensure that the condition is detected and treated as soon as possible.

If you are experiencing the symptoms of gum disease, we invite you to contact Washington Dental. Our general dentists will assess your condition and provide the proper treatment to help you avoid the consequences that come with progressive gum disease. If you seek general dentist’s services to treat gum disease in Los Angeles, Torrance, and Lomita, CA, call us today to book an appointment.