Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is one of the top reasons for tooth loss in adults, and because it is virtually pain-free, many patients do not know they have the disease. During each regular checkup, your dentist will check for signs of periodontal disease by measuring the space between your teeth and gums.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque (a sticky form of bacteria that forms on the teeth). If the plaque is not removed (by flossing, brushing, and regular dental checkups), it will continue to build up and create toxins that can damage the gums. Periodontal disease forms just below the gum line and creates small pockets that separate the gums from the teeth. Periodontal disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.
- Gingivitis — This is the early stage of gum disease, when the gums become red and swollen, and bleed easily. At this stage, the disease is treatable and can usually be eliminated by daily brushing and flossing.
- Periodontitis — If left untreated, gingivitis will advance into periodontitis, and the gums and bone that support the teeth will become seriously and irreversibly damaged. Gums infected with periodontitis can cause teeth to become loose, fall out, or be removed by a dentist.
Certain factors can increase a patient's risk of developing periodontal disease, including:
- Smoking or using chewing tobacco
- Certain types of medication such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives
- Bridges that no longer fit properly
- Crooked teeth
- Old fillings
While it is possible to have periodontal disease and not know it, some symptoms can include:
- Gums that bleed easily
- Red, swollen, tender gums
- Gums that have pulled away from the teeth
- Persistent bad breath or bad taste
- Pus between your teeth and gums
- 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
Treating Gum Disease
Treatments for gum disease can vary depending on the severity of each individual case. Typical treatments include:
- Non-surgical treatments such as at-home periodontal trays, and scaling and root planing (deep cleaning)
- Periodontal surgery and laser gum surgery
- Dental implants
Preventing Gum Disease
Regular dental checkups and periodontal examinations are important for maintaining your health and the health of your smile. You don't have to lose teeth to periodontal disease, and by practicing good oral hygiene at home, you can significantly reduce your chances of ever getting gum disease. Remember to brush regularly, clean between your teeth, eat a balanced diet, and schedule regular dental visits to help keep your smile healthy.
I cannot say enough about how comfortable I am made to feel during every appointment. Dr. Watkins is a kind and gentle dentist and I recommend him to everyone, but most of all, I recommend him to those who have ever had a bad experience at a dentist.~ Terre S. Read More
I have been going to Dr. Watkins for many years. After I moved from Bloomington (to over 50 miles away), Dr. Watkins is the only doctor that I keep coming back to Bloomington to see. I trust him completely. He and his staff are so caring, that I no longer dread going to the dentist as I did when I was a child.~ Terre S. Read More
When I first moved to Bloomington, one of my first tasks was finding a new family dentist. One of the reasons I picked Dr. Watkins' office was because his advertisement on the back of my church bulletin said 'Relax, we cater to cowards!' Since I had some painful memories of dental procedures as a child, this slogan gave me hope.~ Vallia Read More
I have been going to this office for probably 25 years or more and I have NEVER been mistreated or disappointed in any way. Even as a child I can remember how careful and caring they all were and continue to be to this day. I have recommended many people to them throughout the years and like me, I have yet to have anyone who was/is disappointed with their service.~ Rex V. Read More
The technology is strictly state-of-the-art. The receptionists are extremely friendly, accommodating, flexible, The doctors are understanding. extremely kind, reassuring, gentle, encouraging, and technically superior.~ Robert R. Read More
Drs. Watkins and their staff provide excellent customer service and exceptional dental care, The entire office is very well organized every step of the way… from scheduling your appointment through each step of your visit and with follow up, my family has been patients of Dr. Watkins for 15+ years!~ Ann Read More
The staff at Dr. Watkins' office always treats me with prompt, friendly, and courteous service! It's as if I were lifelong friends, or yet: family! I have come to expect superior professional service, and with each visit, from cleaning to crowns, the complete staff continues to help me at feel at ease.~ Louella S. Read More
I have been coming to Dr. Watkins since I was little and I'm now in my 30s. There is no one else that I would trust to take care of my smile. My daughter also loves to come here! Drs. Watkins and the office staff are awesome!~ Cami Read More
I work in a medical office as well, and understand the daily grind of repeatedly doing the same thing and seeing the same appointment types... I know that my daughter's appointment was not the only one that day, but the staff made us both feel comfortable, heard, special, and not rushed. I appreciate that!~ Piper R. Read More
They are extremely knowledgeable and more than willing to take the time to explain the what and why of their treatment. This is simply an amazing group of people who are the best at what they do.~ Rex V. Read More
My family have been patients of Dr. Watkins for 15+ years. We have always had very positive and caring experiences with Dr. Watkins and his staff.~ Ann Read More
Dr. Watkins and the office staff are awesome! They treat me like I'm just part of their family. Make your appointment with him today! You won't be sorry!~ Cami Read More
From the minute I walked into his office the very first time, I felt that I would be well cared for, and I have been, every time. Whether it was another crown, a simple filling, or a routine cleaning, my comfort and care has always been their top priority~ Vallia Read More
Dr. Watkins is an excellent dentist with an excellent staff. You never have to wait long, you are always met with competent, very friendly receptionists, and the hygienists and Dr. Watkins themselves are very up to date and explain things very well. The office is also exceptionally clean. Wish I could give more than 5 stars!~ Amy Read More
The medical assistants are top of the line, gentle, reassuring, and knowledgeable. Dr. Watkins is at the top of his game—extremely kind, reassuring, gentle, encouraging, and technically superior.~ Robert R. Read More
I am thrilled to be a patient in this practice and would recommend them to everyone... enthusiastically, and without hesitation!~ Robert R. Read More