Periodontal Disease and Tooth-Supporting Structures

periodontal disease

Periodontal disease goes by a variety of names. You may hear of it referred to as gingivitis, or periodontitis. Nevertheless, they all refer to stages of the same condition which is characterized by plaque spreading from the teeth onto the gums, causing irritation and soreness and leading to infection and much more serious problems.

One of the most significant ways it can be detrimental to your oral health is by affecting your tooth-supporting structures. There are several supporting areas that surround the teeth, all of which have major responsibilities for the function of the teeth and several different body systems.

The supporting structures of the teeth are known as the periodontium and the gums form an integral part of this structure. The gums (gingiva) surround and support the teeth and jaw bone and help to hold the teeth in place. If the gums begin to recede, not only can decay and damage reach the tooth roots, but teeth can become loose and infection can spread to the jaw bone, causing it to deteriorate. The result? A very real risk of tooth loss.

We are able to offer a comprehensive periodontal service to our patients and are committed to helping your teeth and gums be as healthy as possible. In the meantime, here is what you need to know about periodontal disease and how it can affect your tooth-supporting structures.


Gingivitis is the term used to describe the earliest stage of gum problems. The symptoms of gingivitis and mild, and unfortunately, easily overlooked or ignored. This means that it is often led to progress before professional treatment is sought.

Gingivitis is most commonly caused by poor oral hygiene, and in particular, not brushing or flossing your teeth regularly or with the proper technique. However, it can be reversed by taking proactive steps to improve your oral health and seeking the advice and support of your dentist.

Symptoms of gingivitis include:

  • Red gums

  • Gums that are puffy or swollen

  • Gums that bleed when you brush or floss your teeth

  • Bad breath

  • Receding gums

  • Tender gums

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important that you arrange an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can. Prompt action could entirely reverse your symptoms and minimize your risk of developing gingivitis again in the future.

Periodontal Disease/Periodontitis

These are the names given to gingivitis once it has progressed teeth beyond the early stages. At this point, it is probably having a significant effect on your or the body's negative responses. Periodontitis occurs when gum disease is left untreated and has enabled a bacterial infection to affect the periodontium – the tissues, ligaments, and bones that support your teeth. At this point, the damage to your periodontium and your oral health is irreversible. You may already have pockets forming around the teeth where the gums have receded, and these can become filled with bacteria and food debris, further fuelling your condition. Your tooth roots may be infected too, and a root canal may be needed to try and save the tooth from falling out or needing extraction.

Symptoms of periodontitis include all of those listed above for gingivitis, as well as:

  • Abscesses

  • Pus around the teeth

  • Severe dental pain

  • Severe gum recession

  • Small gaps opening next to your teeth (periodontal pockets)

  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth

  • Loose teeth

  • A change in your face shape caused by the deterioration of the jawbone

Periodontal disease has been shown to possibly have a significant effect on a patient’s general health, with those diagnosed with this condition also found to be at greater risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, liver disorder, kidney problems, and even some cancers.

Identifying the signs of gingivitis early is crucial if you are to stop the development of periodontitis and the risks associated with the condition. To find out more about this common and progressive condition, contact Holcroft Cosmetic & Family Dentistry in Palm Beach Gardens, FL to schedule an appointment (561) 693-0580.