Smiling women with white teeth

What is periodontal disease?                 

Periodontal disease can also be called gum disease. It is an inflammation of the gums that has gone below the gumline. Without professional treatment, it can lead to losing the bone that support the teeth. Eventually, the teeth fall out without enough bone support.  

Because gum disease is usually painless, you may not know you have it. It is caused by plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that is constantly forming on your teeth. Plaque that is not removed with thorough daily brushing and cleaning between teeth can eventually harden into calculus or tartar.

Some warning signs of beginning periodontal disease

  • gums that bleed easily
  • red, swollen, tender gums
  • gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • persistent bad breath or bad taste
  • permanent teeth that are loose or separating
  • any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • any change in the fit of partial dentures

You can see the yellowish plaque on the teeth causing the gum tissue to be redder and swollen.

After professional care, you  can see the teeth are whiter, the gums are healthy and pink and no longer swollen.

Types of Periodontal Disease and Treatments


Your gums may be red, swollen and may bleed easily when you brush or floss. This is the first stage of periodontal disease. It can be easily treated. Here’s what you can do.

  • Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day, for at least two minutes each time. Brush to one of your favorite songs helps pass the time.
  • Floss at least once a day or use another interdental cleaner.
  • Schedule a preventive care appointment with your hygienist. Call 616-453-3111 for an appointment.
Periodontal (gum) disease

Advanced periodontal disease is when plaque and tartar get below the gum line. The plaque and tartar are hard because your toothbrush can’t reach it. This causes the gum tissue to “pull away” from the teeth. Your teeth may look longer to you, but they’re not. It’s just that less gum tissue is connected to the teeth and you can see some of the roots.

When you see your dental hygienist, you may hear some numbers. This is a measure of how much your gums have “pulled away” from the teeth. Proper treatment will help the gums reattach to the teeth. Periodontal disease will not get better on its own. You must see a dental professional.

Scaling and Root Planing Treatment

Treatment of advanced periodontal disease requires seeing a dental professional. Special instruments are needed to remove the hardened plaque and tartar, which is now called calculus.

  • Treatment may require several appointments. The mouth is divided into four parts. You may need a separate appointment for each part or four appointments.
  • Sometimes one part of your mouth or several teeth may need treatment and not the entire mouth. This may be done in one appointment.
  • After the calculus is removed, the roots’ surfaces are smoothed. This will help the gum reattach to the tooth.
  • Instead of coming every six months, you made need a patient care appointment every three or four months. This will ensure your gums are healing proper and that you are maintaining good oral health. You may be able to return to a six month recall down the road. Remember: following your dentist’s and hygienist’s recommendations is the best way to keep your smile healthy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are risk factors for periodontal disease?

Here are some risk factors:

  • poor oral care – not brushing and flossing daily
  • smoking or chewing tobacco
  • genetics
  • crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
  • pregnancy
  • diabetes, blood cell disorders, HIV infections and AIDS can lower your body’s resistance to infection
  • medications, including steroids, certain types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers and oral contraceptives
What happens if I don't come in?

If bone loss continues, there will eventually not be enough bone to keep your teeth in your mouth. Your teeth get loose and wiggly and eventually, fall out! If you come in to the office  regularly, your dental health professional at Life-Centered Dentistry will catch the disease early and stop it before serious damage occurs.

Is it possible to get regular dental cleanings and still get perio?

Yes! Regular dental cleanings help keep your mouth healthy. But, as you get older your body changes. That’s why you see your physician yearly. Your doctor checks for body changes that may lead to more serious diseases. Similarly, as you get older your mouht, which is part of your body, changes too. Dr. Ludwig and your hygienist check for changes in your mouth.

Did you know: Changes in your body as you age can affect the health of the gums. Similarly, changes in the health of your gums can affect your body’s health. It’s all inter-related.