Don’t let periodontitis dull your smile.

According to data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 47% of American adults aged 30 and above have some form of periodontal disease. As adults reach age 65, the prevalence of periodontitis rises to 70%. What’s more shocking is that, often, a person living with periodontitis likely doesn’t even realize they have it.

In this post, we look at what periodontitis is, symptoms to watch for, and what to do if you think you might have it.

What is periodontitis?

Periodontitis, or periodontal disease, is an infection in the gums that causes redness, inflammation, and, in some cases, bleeding. Without proper treatment, periodontitis can spread beyond the gums, eventually leading to bone damage, tooth decay, and even tooth loss.

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and symptoms that you may have periodontitis include:

  • Red, swollen, or sore gums.
  • Gum recession.
  • Gums that have pus coming out of them.
  • Gums that bleed when brushing or flossing.
  • Loose teeth in adults.
  • Tooth sensitivity.
  • Bad breath.
  • Difficulty or pain chewing.
  • Changes in jaw alignment.

Of course, the symptoms listed above can be indicative of a range of other dental problems, so it’s best to visit a dentist to discuss any new or changing issues with your oral health.

Risk Factors

Periodontitis is most common in men and adults over 30, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t occur in younger adults or even adolescents. The condition can affect anyone who doesn’t brush their teeth or floss regularly or properly.

There are several other factors that could increase your risk of periodontitis:

  • Smoking.
  • Diabetes.
  • Medications that reduce saliva production, such as amphetamines and antihistamines.
  • Hormonal changes in women.
  • A compromised immune system due to cancer, AIDS, lupus, or other conditions.
  • Genetics.
  • Gingivitis.

How to Prevent Periodontitis

Periodontitis is completely preventable by simply engaging in good habits. To keep your gums healthy, be sure to visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings, and take care to brush and floss your teeth at least twice daily.

If you’re a smoker, giving up cigarettes can also help protect your oral health.

Think you might have periodontitis?

If you have signs of periodontitis, it’s important to schedule a visit with your dentist as soon as possible.


Periodontitis can typically be diagnosed by your dentist using several diagnostic techniques.

After discussing your symptoms and medical history, your dentist will conduct a physical examination to examine your teeth and gums, taking special care to identify any signs of inflammation or infection. They may use a periodontal probe, which is a small dental ruler, to determine if there are pockets between your gums and teeth, as well as X-rays to determine the health of your teeth and bone.


Dentists use several methods to treat periodontitis, and the treatment typically depends on the severity of the case. In minor cases, deep cleaning, including scaling and root planing, can give the gums and teeth the space and cleanliness they need to heal on their own.

In more advanced cases, particularly those where bone loss is imminent or has already occurred, surgery may be required. There are two types of surgery that may be used to treat this condition:

  1. Bone and tissue grafting: The dentist will use natural or synthetic bone to fill in areas where bone has been damaged or lost.
  2. Flap surgery: The dentist surgically separates the gums from the teeth and lifts them to remove tartar that’s deposited in pockets around the teeth.

In addition to the treatments listed above, dentists or periodontists may prescribe an antimicrobial or antibacterial mouthwash to keep the mouth clean while it heals.

What does it cost to treat periodontitis?

The actual cost of treating periodontitis varies depending on the severity of your case and the prescribed treatment. Cases that are more advanced are more expensive to treat.

When considering the costs associated with periodontitis, it’s also important to consider financial losses associated with treatment, such as time off work, travel to and from your dental office, and the cost of medications, if they’re required. Additionally, if tooth loss has occurred, you may need to consider additional dental expenses, such as implants or dentures.

The Importance of Early Intervention

Periodontitis can become serious quickly, so it’s important to have it diagnosed and treated as soon as symptoms arise. This condition can destroy the jaw bone and ultimately cause permanent tooth loss.

Some studies have shown that untreated periodontitis may cause pregnancy complications and could be a risk factor for several other conditions, as well. These include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Lung and colorectal cancer.

Caring for your oral health means caring for your whole body. By visiting your dentist regularly, you can prevent periodontitis and other dental complications. If you’d like to schedule a checkup, or if you’re experiencing symptoms of periodontitis, reach out today to book an appointment with Dr. Edwards or Dr. Burton at Ada Smile Place.