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What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal (Gum) Diseases

Periodontitis is a severe, advanced form of gum disease.  Early gum disease causes the gums to pull away from the teeth. Resulting in deep pockets where plaque and bacteria can build up over time. Periodontitis can progress until the bones that support the teeth are damaged. Teeth may become loose, fall out or need to be removed.

The mildest form of periodontal disease is gingivitis. It’s a gum disease that affects only the gums and the soft tissue that surrounds the teeth. Gingivitis occurs when plaque is allowed to build up on the teeth and gums. Gingivitis is a type of gum disease that can be reversed with proper oral health care and prevention techniques; it causes red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed. There is usually little or no discomfort associated with this form of the disease. The good news is that at this stage with proper non-surgical treatment the disease is completely reversible.

Untreated gingivitis may progress into periodontitis if the tissues and bone are destroyed by the advancing bacteria. The gum tissue separates from the teeth creating a pocket between the gum and the tooth. As the disease progresses, if left unchecked, the pockets deepen and more gum and bone are destroyed leading to abscess, loose teeth and eventually complete tooth loss.

Periodontal Gum Disease

Gingivitis: Plaque and its byproducts irritate the gums making them tender and likely to bleed.

Periodontal Disease Treatment

Periodontitis: Plaque hardens into tarter. The seal between the gum and tooth opens and bacteria attack the gum and bone causing bone loss. The bone supports the teeth in a similar way to earth supporting a fence post.


Advanced Periodontitis: The gum and bone which support the teeth is damaged. Bone loss is advanced and leads to loose teeth which may require extraction.

Risk and Prevention of Periodontitis

Although plaque and bacteria buildup is the primary cause of periodontal disease, many other factors such as; other diseases, medication and oral habits can also contribute. These are a few factors to include when assessing your risk of periodontal disease:

  • Genetics
  • Smoking / Tobacco Use
  • Misaligned or Crowded Teeth
  • Grinding / Clenching of Teeth
  • Stress
  • Hormone Fluctuations
  • Medications
  • Diseases
  • Poor Nutrition 

Periodontal Disease Treatment in South Jersey

Dr. Alan Meltzer is board certified dentist with a specialty in periodontics and dental implants. Dr. Meltzer's training and dual board certifications attest to his knowledge and training, his reputation is based upon his outstanding clinical skill and patient care. He has been featured in New Jersey Magazine as a Top Doc and Dentistry Today magazine as one of the Top 100 international leaders in dentistry. To learn more about Dr. Melter, or to request an appointment call us at (856) 772-9444

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