What Is Gum Disease?

Gum disease is a chronic infection of the area around your teeth. That’s why it’s also known as periodontal disease (periodontal literally means “near the teeth”). It’s caused by oral bacteria that grow out of control and can damage your gums and the bone support for your teeth.

Minor gum disease is called gingivitis. The more serious name is called periodontitis. Many people develop gingivitis and it never progresses to periodontitis. Other people quickly progress to the more serious form and it threatens their teeth and health.


Gum disease symptoms are often easy to overlook at first. They become more obvious as the condition grows worse. Here is a typical progress of symptoms:

Signs of periodontal disease include:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Red and puffy gums
  • Tenderness or discomfort
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • New spacing between the teeth
  • Pus around the teeth and gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Swollen gums
  • Tender gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Teeth shift and move
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth loss

Many people don’t realize that gums aren’t supposed to be red or swollen. You might not be able to tell whether your gums are a healthy color and shape. In addition, some people think that it’s normal for gums to hurt or bleed when they brush and floss–it’s not.

Often times, sensitive teeth is the first symptom people take seriously. This is caused when disease causes the gums to separate from the teeth, exposing the tooth roots. As the gums continue to pull away and recede, you might see the darker-colored, rough-textured roots. Your teeth don’t grow as you get older–if they seem to be getting longer, it’s because of receding gums.

As the bone support around the teeth is destroyed, they become more likely to shift and move. They will grow more loose, and they can eventually be lost.


Fortunately, we have options for treating gum disease. The type of treatment we recommend depends on how serious it is.

For gingivitis, we might just recommend changes to your daily hygiene routine: more regular brushing or flossing. Perhaps you should add a mouthwash to your routine.

If experiencing periodontitis, we might recommend more regular dental visits.

If it persists, we might recommend PerioProtect. This treatment uses fitted trays similar to teeth whitening trays to deliver medication that helps kill harmful bacteria.

A deep cleaning is when we physically clean the space between your teeth and gums before putting your gums back so they will reattach to your teeth and heal. This is also known as a root scaling and planing because we remove deposits from the roots of your teeth and smooth the roots so bacteria don’t cling as well.

Very serious gum disease requires surgery. Sometimes, this might mean removing teeth that are beyond saving and we will  have to resolve that before we can consider replacing these teeth with dental implants.

How Gum Disease Affects Your Body

Gum disease is like any other chronic infection: it’s a potentially serious threat to your health. Studies have linked these to an elevated risk of:

  • Pregnancy complications
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Diabetes
  • Autoimmune disorders
  • Dementia
  • Cancer

There are many ways that gum disease leads to these effects. One is simply that bacteria can enter your bloodstream and travel throughout the body, causing infections elsewhere. Gum disease also causes systemic inflammation, which can adversely affect many of your tissues, and has been linked to dementia and cancer. In addition, bacteria are able to change the way the immune system works it can either keep the immune system from functioning, or it can make your immune system attack your body.

The longer left untreated, the more severe the impacts.

Do You Have Gum Disease in St. Augustine?

If you have gum disease, we offer many treatment options. Please contact St. Augustine dentist Dr. Stephanie Kinsey today to learn about the treatment options that are best for you. call (904) 826-4343 today for an appointment.