What is Periodontitis? Treatments, Signs, and Symptoms

  • What is it
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Treatments
  • Prevention

What is it

Gum disease, also known as Periodontitis, occurs due to bacterial growth in the mouth and can lead to gum deterioration and loosening teeth. It usually starts out as gingivitis, with red and irritated gums, and progresses to a more serious, although fairly rare condition.

Periodontitis affects the area just below the gum line, between your teeth and gums, breaking down the tissue that holds your teeth in their sockets. Once this tissue has been destroyed, more and more bacteria accumulates leading to gum infection.


Plaque is the primary cause of gum disease. However, other factors can contribute to periodontal disease. These include:

  • Hormonal changes with pregnancy, puberty, menopause, makes gums more sensitive and easier to develop gingivitis. 
  • Illnesses as cancer, HIV, or diabetes that interfere greatly with the immune system puts people at a higher risk of developing infections such as cavities and periodontal disease. 
  • Medications can affect oral health. Some lessen the amount of saliva your mouth produces which acts as a protectant for your teeth and gums. Other drugs can cause abnormal growth of gum tissue. 
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco can lead to numerous oral problems but ultimately make it harder for gum tissue to repair itself. 
  • Poor oral hygiene such as inconsistent brushing or flossing 
  • Family history or gum or dental disease can be a contributing factor as well.


  • Swollen, tender, or bleeding gums 
  • Receding gums 
  • Pus around gums 
  • Chronic bad breath 
  • Loose teeth 
  • A noticeable way in which your teeth fit together 
  • If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms it’s important to see your dentist to determine the severity of the gum infection and how you can treat it.


Depending on the severity of the infection there are different treatment options that you’ll discuss with your dental professional.

  • Antibiotics: Either prescribed as pills or an injection right into the infected gums 
  • Root Planing and Scaling: With advanced gum infections, this treatment cleans deeply between your gums and teeth all the way to the roots. 
  • Flap Surgery: In the most severe cases of gum disease, flap surgery may be necessary involving bone or tissue grafts. 


  • Prevention is the best way to protect your gums and keep your entire mouth healthy.
  • Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to gently neutralize bacteria trapped around the gum line. 
  • Floss daily and be sure to get in between each and every tooth to remove food particles that cause plaque and tartar build-up. 
  • Use an anti-gingivitis mouthwash to eliminate bacteria that causes plaque. 
  • Visit a dental professional at least twice a year for a professional cleaning. They’ll be able to assess your oral health and give you a deep clean you can’t achieve on your own at home.