GINGIVITIS, GUM and Periodontal Disease

Gum disease usually can be prevented through good hygiene (brush and floss often!) and regular teeth cleanings by your dentist and  hygienist to keep levels of plaque and tartar to a minimum.


Following a healthy diet also is important and limiting refined sugars (colas, candy, etc.) will help prevent periodontal disease.


Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease (periodontal disease) that causes irritation, redness and swelling (inflammation) of your gingiva, the part of your gum around the base of your teeth. It's important to take gingivitis seriously and treat it promptly. Gingivitis can lead to much more serious gum disease called periodontitis and tooth loss.

The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene. Good oral health habits, such as brushing at least twice a day, flossing daily and getting regular dental checkups, can help prevent and reverse gingivitis.

Symptoms of Gingivitis

​Healthy gums are firm and pale pink and fitted tightly around the teeth. Signs and symptom of gingivitis include:

  • Swollen or puffy gums

  • Dusky red or dark red gums

  • Gums that bleed easily when you brush or floss

  • Bad breath

  • Receding gums

  • Tender gums

Causes of Gingivitis

The most common cause of gingivitis is poor oral hygiene that encourages plaque to form on teeth, causing inflammation of the surrounding gum tissues. Here's how plaque can lead to gingivitis:

  • Plaque forms on your teeth. Plaque is an invisible, sticky film composed mainly of bacteria that forms on your teeth when starches and sugars in food interact with bacteria normally found in your mouth. Plaque requires daily removal because it re-forms quickly.

  • Plaque turns into tartar. Plaque that stays on your teeth can harden under your gumline into tartar (calculus), which collects bacteria. Tartar makes plaque more difficult to remove, creates a protective shield for bacteria and causes irritation along the gumline. You need professional dental cleaning to remove tartar.

  • Gingiva become inflamed (gingivitis). The longer that plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more they irritate the gingiva, the part of your gum around the base of your teeth, causing inflammation. In time, your gums become swollen and bleed easily. Tooth decay (dental caries) also may result. If not treated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis and eventual tooth loss.

Periodontal Disease

Common Signs of Gum Disease

also known as Gum Disease and/or Periodontitis, is an inflammatory condition affecting the gum tissue surrounding a tooth. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss. 

Here are some common signs of gum disease you and your dentist can look for:

  1. Bleeding gums during tooth brushing, flossing or otherwise

  2. Sensitive, red or swollen gum tissue

  3. Bad breath

  4. Teeth that are loose or appear to have shifted

Once periodontal disease sets in, if left untreated the toxins produced by the bacteria damage the teeth’s connective tissue and bone causing tooth loss.

Causes of Gum Disease

Improper Dental Hygiene: Gum disease is the result of bacterial infection in the gum tissue surrounding the tooth. If plaque is not removed through daily dental hygiene practice and regular professional dental cleanings, bacteria may set in and cause gingivitis, which would eventually lead to periodontal/gum disease.

Organic Changes in the Mouth: During pregnancy, puberty, and menopause, your metabolism and hormone levels undergo changes that affect the organic balance in your mouth, making your teeth more susceptible to gum disease.

Medical Conditions: Some medications may produce an overgrowth of the gums, making them more susceptible to bacterial growth. Serious conditions that affect the body’s ability to produce sugar (such as diabetes or kidney disease) may contribute to periodontal disease. An association between certain illnesses (including diabetes, stroke and heart attack) and gum disease has also been found, making care and prevention of periodontal diseases important for your overall health..


Saliva Flow Inhibitors: The reduction of protective saliva flow as a result of certain medications that produce oral side effects or dry mouth syndrome (xerostomia) may contribute to gum disease. Because of the natural reduction of salivary flow associated with age,seniors may be more susceptible to dry mouth syndrome, and hence to gum disease.


Poor Functional Habits: Teeth grinding or clenching may impair the surrounding tissue and is a possible contributor to gum disease.

Each of the causes of gum disease can be corrected and/or controlled through proper dental hygiene, regular check ups by your dentist and prompt treatment of any identified problem.

What Does Healthy Gums and Periodontal Disease Look Like?


No Infection
No Odors or tastes
No Blood
No Pain
Gum Tissue is light pink and firm

Stages of Disease

Stage 1 Initial Gum Disease (Gingivitis)
Gums bleed easily when you brush or when probed gently during examination
Gums are inflamed and sensitive to touch
Possible bad breath and bad taste
Gums between teeth may look bluish-red in color.

Stage 2 Early Gum & Bone Disease (Early Periodontitis)Gums may begin to pull away from the teethBleeding, puffiness and inflammation more pronouncedBad breath and bad tasteSlight loss of bone, horizontally on X-rayPockets of 3-4 mm between teeth and gums in one or more areas of the mouth

Stage 3 Moderate Gum & Bone Disease (Moderate Periodontitis)
Gum boils or abscesses may develop
Teeth look longer as begin to recede
Front teeth may begin to drift, showing spaces
Bad breath, bad taste
Both horizontal and angular bone loss on X-ray
Pockets between and gum range from 4-6 mm deep


Stage 4 Advanced Gum & Bone Disease (Advanced Periodontitis)
Teeth may become mobile or loose
Bad breath, bad taste are constant
Rots may be exposed and are sensitive to hot and cold
Severe horizontal and angular bone loss on X-ray
Pockets between teeth and gum now in excess of 6 mm deep

Periodontal Disease Treatments

Thee are a number of treatments available, each of which varies depending on the severity of the condition. The treatment that best meets your needs will be determined by your dentist after an evaluation, however, the basic treatment (when infection of the gums is limited) consists of:

Removing Calculus: 

(also known as tartar) through a professional cleaning, and sometimes through deepscaling and root planing.)

Administering Antibiotics:

to treat bacteria housed in the pocketed areas of the gum.

Using Medicated Mouthwash: 

as a regular part of your home regimen.

In more advanced conditions, treatment may consist of one or a combination of:

Tissue Regeneration:

If the bone has been destroyed, your dentist may employ a technique called tissue regeneration, which involves grafting the bone to offer a better chance of bone re-growth. To strengthen thin gums, soft tissue grafts may also be used.

Pocket Elimination Surgery: 

When surgery is a part of the treatment plan to help prevent tooth loss resulting from gum disease, some surgical options include:

Periodontal flap surgery - to reduce the pocket gap between the teeth and gums.
Jaw bone reshaping - to eliminate the craters housing bacteria that contribute to gum disease, and to help prevent future colonization of bacteria growth.

Laser Therapy: 

Laser Periodontal Therapy is used to remove only the diseased tissue without removing any of the healthy tissue, maintain the height of the tissue around teeth, minimize pain and discomfort to the patient, get a closure of the periodontal pocket wound and allow healing to take place. What this procedure means to our patients:less pain, less bleeding, less swelling, less tissue removed, less down time, and less recovery time.

What should you do if you think you have gum disease?

Contact our office at  (719) 597-6300 to schedule a convenient examination appointment as soon as possible. If the gum disease is early, sometimes all you need is cleaning. Otherwise, we shall make a more extensive evaluation and recommend a treatment plan to meet your needs.