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Gum disease often goes untreated for extended periods of time due to the mildness of symptoms in the early stages. This is certainly true of gingivitis, and often even for earlier stages of the more advanced condition, periodontitis. In spite of the mildness of symptoms, the long-term implications of untreated periodontal disease to a patient’s overall health, not to mention dental health, can be detrimental. This is why regular visits with your dentist are so important, so that any issues can be nipped in the bud before they cause further damage.


Gingivitis vs Periodontitis

Simply put, gingivitis is the earliest stages of periodontal disease that, if left untreated, can progress to periodontitis. The underlying cause of all gum disease is a bacterial infection through plaque that builds up on the teeth and gum line.


Typical gingivitis symptoms include inflamed, sore, red, or swollen gums that may feel particularly tender when brushing. Other signs to look out for are receding gums that expose more of the tooth that they should, persistent bad breath, mouth sores, gums that are shiny in appearance, and loose teeth. At the earliest stages, this condition may not show much noticeable discomfort or pain, so regular check-ups are highly recommended.

Dental plaque is a naturally occurring film of bacteria that forms on the teeth and gums due to food and saliva. When the plaque is not routinely removed through good oral hygiene practices and regular teeth cleaning, it can build up and turn into a hard deposit called tartar on one’s teeth. The tartar can then become trapped at the base of the tooth, producing toxins that irritate the gum tissue to cause a type of gum infection.

Some factors that increase risk of gum disease include smoking and chewing tobacco, poor oral hygiene, older age, dry mouth, poor nutrition including vitamin C deficiency, stress, hormonal changes (pregnancy, menstrual cycle, hormonal birth control, etc.), certain medications (seizure medications, some calcium channel blockers, etc.), certain chronic diseases (diabetes, cancer, HIV, etc.), crooked or crowded teeth, and genetics.

With mild symptoms that don’t greatly affect daily life, it may be tempting to let gingivitis slide by without action. However, it is extremely important to visit your dentist and seek treatment as soon as you suspect any kind of periodontal disease. Left untreated, it is at high risk of advancing to more serious dental conditions that can cause bone deterioration, tooth loss, and even increase the risk of stroke, heart attack, and other serious illnesses.

Better than any treatment or cure is always prevention, and we believe that wholeheartedly at our dental office! For most people, good oral hygiene habits practiced consistently can prevent the onset of gum disease. This includes brushing after each meal, flossing daily, and regular dental visits for professional teeth cleaning and check-ups. Those at higher risk for periodontal disease should also consider more frequent visits to their dentist.


Despite being a very serious gum infection, symptoms may not be very noticeable in the early stages. Aside from the same symptoms as gingivitis such as sore and swollen gums, periodontitis symptoms also include pain when chewing, changes in position of teeth, tooth loss, inflammatory response throughout the body, pus between teeth and gums, new spaces between teeth, and changes in the bite between upper and lower teeth.

As an advanced form of periodontal disease, periodontitis can be said to be caused by untreated gingivitis. It also begins with the buildup of plaque that allows bacteria and toxins to fester on the gum line. If left untreated, the constantly inflamed gums cause pockets to develop between the gums and teeth that are filled with plaque, tartar, and bacteria. Ultimately, these pockets become deeper to cause loss of bone and tissue.

Many of the risk factors for periodontitis mirror those of early-stage periodontal disease. Other factors include smoking marijuana or vaping, obesity, conditions that decrease immunity, and certain diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. The greatest risk factor for periodontitis is untreated gingivitis, and we cannot stress enough the importance of seeking prompt treatment for even the mildest signs of gum disease.

Untreated periodontitis can have detrimental effects on the patient’s general and dental health. It can cause severe deterioration of jawbone, which can lead to tooth loss. Furthermore, the bacteria has been known to enter the bloodstream through the gum tissue resulting in an increased risk of respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease, and blood sugar issues in diabetes patients.

Practicing good oral hygiene and making regular visits to your dental clinic for teeth cleaning and check-ups is essential for the prevention of all major dental conditions. For patients who have already experienced the onset of gum disease, receiving prompt treatment and taking ongoing precautions for the condition are key to preventing a new diagnosis of periodontitis. Gingivitis is reversible, so be sure to catch it before it progresses!

gum disease

Periodontal Disease Treatment

There are three primary types of treatment for the various stages of gum disease; – 1) deep cleaning, 2) antibiotic medications, and 3) surgery.

Deep cleaning by your dentist for the treatment of gum disease may involve scaling and root planing. This involves the removal of plaque and tartar from not only above and below the gum line, but also the surface of the tooth roots in order to provide a clean surface for the gums to reattach to the teeth.

Antibiotic medications are temporary measures to decrease or eradicate bacteria. These may come in the form of pills, mouth rinse, or gelatin-filled chips that are placed in pockets after root planning. Medications may be used alone, or in conjunction with other treatments.

Surgical treatment of gum disease can include flap surgery or pocket reduction surgery, bone grafts, soft tissue grafts, guided tissue regeneration, and bone surgery. These measures may be necessary for patients with unhealthy or damaged tissue that are not treatable by other means.   

What are the Treatment costs for Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease treatment costs can range from under two hundred dollars up to thousands, depending on the type of treatment required. Different insurance policies cover different dental procedures, so the staff at our dental office are trained to explore the best options to keep your out-of-pocket costs down to a minimum. We even accept MediCal dental coverage to ensure our patients don’t miss out on essential dental procedures, so contact our dental clinic for a consultation today!

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