Periodontal (Gum) Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects approximately 70% of Americans over the age of 65 according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If left untreated or ignored, gum disease can lead to tooth loss because it causes bone and gum loss.

Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums that begins with bacterial plaque accumulation around teeth. As the plaque mineralizes, it becomes a hard tartar build up that cannot be removed with your toothbrush. The initial stage of periodontal disease is called gingivitis, which is defined as a reversible inflammation of your gums. As gingivitis progresses, it can lead to periodontitis, which irreversibly destroys the tissues surrounding your teeth and the bone that holds your teeth in place. Periodontal disease is a silent disease that progresses often without pain.

Don't let fear of dental surgery keep you from the care you need. There are numerous studies that when your gums become diseased, your entire immune system is weakened. There is a link between gum disease and stroke, heart disease, diabetes and an increased risk for pregnant women to have preterm low birth weight babies when your immune system is under attack. It is also a simple fact that controlling gum disease can save your teeth, which should be enough cause to see a periodontist when gum disease is present.

What causes gum disease?

Bacteria. Your mouth is full of bacteria. A sticky, colorless plaque forms on your teeth from the bacteria, mucus and other particles in your mouth. As plaque builds up, it hardens and forms tartar. The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more harmful they can become.


The bacteria first starts to cause inflammation of the gums. This is called gingivitis. The gums become red, swollen and can bleed easily. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can usually be reversed with daily brushing and flossing and regular cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist. This form of gum disease does not include any loss of bone and tissue that hold teeth in place.


When gingivitis is not treated, it can advance to periodontitis, (which means “inflammation around the tooth”). Gums begin to pull away from the teeth and form spaces called pockets. These pockets can easily become infected. The body’s natural defense system will fight the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Bacterial toxins and the body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bone, gums, and tissues that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed.

Note that brushing and flossing helps to remove plaque. However, only a professional cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist can remove tartar. It is highly recommended to have regular cleanings for this cause.

Risk Factors for Gum Disease

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Gum disease is often silent, which means that symptoms may not appear until the advanced stages of the disease. However, warning signs of gum disease include the following:


Treatment of Gum Disease

Treatments of gum disease include deep cleaning (Scaling and Root Planing), medications or surgical treatment. Surgical treatments include a possible pocket reduction therapy or bone and tissue grafting.

Located in Fort Collins, Dr. Angie Lee is an experienced periodontist and is board certified by the American Board of Periodontology and the International Congress Of Oral Implantologists. Whether you are fighting gum disease or in need of an extraction, Dr. Angie Lee is your source for periodontal dental care.

After you see Dr. Angie Lee for treatment, it is not uncommon for regularly performed periodontal maintenance to occur at certain intervals. Periodontal maintenance includes the removal of plaque and tartar, scaling and polishing. Dr. Angie Lee will determine the frequency the periodontal maintenance is needed.

Please be aware that regular periodontal maintenance helps minimize the recurrence of gum disease.