Dr. Lloyd Soman D.D.S


About Gum Disease

Gum disease (also called periodontal disease) is an infection of the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. In fact, after age 35, about three out of four adults are affected by some form of gum disease.

Gum disease is caused by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on the teeth. These bacteria create toxins that can damage the gums. In the early stage of gum disease, called gingivitis, the gums can become red, swollen and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is still reversible and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing.

Because gum disease is usually painless, however, you may not know you have it. In the more advanced stages of gum disease, called periodontitis, the gums and bone that support the teeth can become seriously damaged. The teeth can become loose, fall out or have to be removed by a dentist.

While there are many forms of gingival and periodontal diseases, the most common types are gingivitis and adult periodontitis: 

Gingivitis is the earliest stage, and affects only the gum tissue. At this stage, the disease is still reversible. 

Periodontitis is the more advanced stage of periodontal diseases. The gums, bone and other structures that support the teeth become damaged. Teeth can become loose and fall out - or may have to be removed. At this stage, the disease may require more complex treatment to prevent tooth loss. Usually, however, there are no painful symptoms of periodontal disease until it is at a severe stage, so often it goes untreated.  Here is a step-by-step illustration of the progress of gingivitis and periodontitis:

Healthy gingiva (gum tissue) and bone 
 the teeth firmly in place.

Gingivitis develops as toxins in plaque irritate the gums, 
making them red, tender, swollen and
 likely to bleed easily.

Periodontitis occurs when toxins destroy the tissues that anchor the teeth in the bone. Gums become detached from the teeth and the bone resorbs, forming pockets that fill with more plaque. Tooth roots are exposed to plaque and become susceptible to decay and sensitive to cold and touch.

Advanced periodontitis is present when the teeth lose more attachment because the supporting bone is destroyed. Unless treated, the affected teeth frequently becomes loose, may fall out or require removal by a dentist.


With regular visits, the dentists can detect developing periodontal diseases early, before the gums and the bone around your teeth are irreversibly damaged. So don't wait till it hurts!

During checkups, one of our dentists will examine your gums for periodontal problems. An instrument called a periodontal probe will be used to determine if there is any breakdown in the gum tissue attachment or development of pockets between your gums and teeth.

It may also be necessary to take X-rays to determine if any bone has been destroyed.


The first step in periodontal therapy is usually a thorough cleaning which may include scaling and root planing to remove plaque and calculus deposits beneath the gumline. In some cases, the occlusion (bite) also may require adjustment.  This is followed by regular intervals of periodontal maintenance. 

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