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Periodontal Care: Symptoms, Stages & Treatment

Do you know a healthy smile goes beyond having pearl-white teeth? Yes, for optimal oral health, you also need periodontal care. This involves keeping your gums healthy and protecting them from the pesky grip of periodontitis or gum diseases.

Periodontitis can cause bleeding gums, receding gums, tooth sensitivity, and loose, shifting, or wobbly teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis can advance to cause tooth and bone loss, affecting your aesthetics and overall health. Keep reading to learn more about periodontitis and improve your oral health.

What is Periodontitis?

Periodontitis is an inflammatory condition that affects the periodontium—the supporting structures around a tooth. They include gingival tissue, alveolar bone, cementum, and periodontal ligament. The term periodontitis comes from the word “periodont” which means the structure around a tooth, and “itis” meaning inflammation. So, periodontitis simply destroys the supporting structures of a tooth.

Symptoms of Periodontitis


Periodontitis has some warning signs. Below are some common symptoms to help you identify this oral disease and seek timely treatment.

  • Inflamed or swollen gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose teeth/tooth loss
  • Pain while chewing
  • Presence of pus around the gum.
  • Gum discoloration (your gum starts turning reddish, darkish, or purplish)
  • Receding gums
  • Spitting blood while brushing

What Causes Periodontitis?

The main cause of periodontitis is poor brushing and flossing habits. When you don’t brush or floss your teeth regularly and diligently, plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, tends to accumulate around your teeth. The bacteria hardens and causes your gums to swell and bleed. If you fail to clear the bacteria early, it spreads to the tissues surrounding your gum and destroys them.

Risk Factors of Periodontitis

Although poor oral hygiene is the primary cause, several factors may increase the risk of developing periodontitis. They include:


smoking periodontist

Smoking cigarettes, cigars, cannabis or pipes is a significant risk factor for periodontitis. Smokers are more likely to experience severe periodontitis compared to non-smokers. Smoking alters the oral microbial flora and increases the number of periodontal microorganisms. It may even affect one’s response to periodontal treatment.

Hormonal Changes in Women

hormones periodontist

Hormonal changes in different stages affect women’s oral health. For instance, women in the post-menopause stage of life may be at a higher risk of periodontitis. After menopause, women may experience estrogen deficiency, which may lead to alveolar bone loss and eventually tooth loss.

Pregnancy and the use of birth control pills may also raise the risk of contracting periodontitis due to hormone alteration. Fortunately, for pregnant women, the risk disappears a few months after giving birth.



A good flow of salivary secretions reduces dental plaque formation. Stress reduces those salivary secretions, thus enhancing plaque formation, which may progress to periodontitis. Also, people with stress have high cortisol levels, which makes them respond poorly to periodontal treatments.

Stages of Periodontitis

Periodontitis progresses through four stages based on severity and level of management required. These stages include:

Stage 1: Initial Periodontitis

Before the onset of periodontitis, gingivitis is the first condition that will affect you. It is an early-stage gum disease that causes red and swollen gums. At the gingivitis stage, its effects are still reversible with good oral hygiene or a dental visit.

Failure to treat gingivitis progresses the disease to periodontitis stage 1. At this initial stage, the gum inflammation starts its destruction, destroying the periodontal ligament. The condition is not reversible at this point and you can only manage it by visiting a reputable periodontist.

Stage 2: Moderate Periodontitis

Failure to treat initial periodontitis progresses the disease to moderate periodontitis. While damages at initial periodontitis are slight and almost undetectable, damages at the moderate stage are more profound and easily detectable. The gum may swell and appear redder and tender and they may even bleed while brushing or flossing. Moreover, you may begin to experience higher tooth sensitivity especially when taking hot or cold drinks.

Stage 3: Severe Periodontitis with the Potential for Tooth Loss

As the disease progresses, you might notice some changes as it enters the third stage. You may start to experience a bad taste in your mouth and bad breath. Additionally, because your gums have receded, your teeth might appear longer. There is a real risk of losing some of your teeth at this stage.

Stage 4: Severe Periodontitis with the Potential for Losing All Teeth

This is the last stage of periodontitis. The inflammation in your gums is already severe. By this time, several teeth could be missing, and the remaining ones are already loose and may require extraction.

Treatment and Management of Periodontitis

Treating and managing periodontitis with expert periodontal care may involve the use of surgical or non-surgical procedures.

Non-Surgical Treatments

Non-surgical periodontal therapy is the first in-line treatment in the management of periodontitis. Here are a few available non-surgical treatments:

Scaling and Root Planning

This treatment involves deep cleaning of the tooth root surfaces by an experienced periodontist. The goal is to get rid of plaque and other bacterial toxins from the periodontal pockets. During scaling and root planning, your gum will be gently numbed with anesthesia to keep you comfortable as the periodontist works beneath your gum line.

Administering Antibiotics

Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics such as penicillin, metronidazole, tetracycline, and nitroimidazole compounds to fight the bacteria. They may prescribe a single drug or a combination to increase effectiveness.

Surgical Treatments

From the moderate periodontitis stage onward , your dentist may prescribe a surgical procedure. Surgical treatments come after non-surgical therapies and when patients achieve a good level of plaque control. These surgical procedures include:

Gum Graft Surgery

Periodontitis may cause gum recession, where the gums pull away from the teeth, exposing the roots. This makes teeth more susceptible to decay and infections. Gum graft surgery seeks to reverse the effects of gum recession. Your periodontist will obtain tissue from the roof of your mouth or another donor source and cover the exposed root.

Regenerative Surgical Procedures

These are surgical procedures done to restore the supporting structures of your teeth. These could be bones or connective tissues. There are two common regenerative surgical procedures for periodontics treatment:

  • Bone grafting: If significant bone loss has occurred, your dentist or periodontist might suggest this option for your periodontal care plan. They’ll place a bone from another part of your body or from a donor source onto the area of tooth loss to help stimulate new bone growth.
  • Tissue regeneration: A periodontist places a biocompatible membrane between the tooth and existing bone. This prevents the gum tissue from growing into that area. Instead, the appropriate connective tissues start to regenerate.

Periodontal Pockets Surgery

Moderate to severe periodontitis damages the roots and tissues surrounding a tooth. This may lead to large spaces or “pockets” forming around a tooth. These pockets make it hard to get rid of the entire bacteria using scaling and root planning. In such instances, your dentist may recommend a periodontal pocket procedure to reduce pocket sizes.

Your dentist will fold your gum to get rid of bacteria deep inside. After removing all tartar, they’ll fold the gum back to its place but closer to the tooth.

Periodontal Care with Eriks Dental Group

Periodontitis impacts not only oral health but also your overall well-being. It could potentially increase your risk of developing other conditions such as heart disease, stroke, or dementia. But here’s the good news: you don’t have to wait until things get that serious! By scheduling regular check-ups with your dentist, you can take proactive steps to prevent periodontitis.

If you’re already dealing with it, don’t worry. Our team of licensed periodontists is here to help you manage it effectively. Contact experts at Eriks Dental Group today for quality periodontal care.