How do I know if I have periodontal disease and what can I do about it?

It’s difficult to enjoy your day-to-day activities when your gums are constantly swollen or tender, or when there’s a bad taste in your mouth that just won’t go away. It could be that you’re just having one of ‘those days,’ or it could mean that something more serious is going on with your oral health. It’s important to understand the warning signs of periodontal disease (or ‘gum disease’) so you know whether or not you need dental intervention.

Periodontal diseases develop when your gums become inflamed in the early stages of gingivitis. When periodontal diseases become severe, they can spread to the bone supporting your teeth and also cause tooth loss. The thought of gum disease can be scary, but the good news is that it’s completely preventable with proper dental hygiene and regular dental checkups at your Lakewood, CO dentist

Here is how to know if you have periodontal disease and what to do about it if you do.

What are the signs and symptoms of periodontitis?

Periodontal diseases are caused by bacteria in the mouth. When you don’t follow a healthy dental hygiene regime, the bacteria forms plaque. As it hardens, it turns into a harder coating called tartar, which can lead to gum infections. This is because the tartar makes it difficult to clean the teeth, leading to inflammation around the tooth. If left unchecked, you can develop periodontal disease. Gum disease symptoms include:

  • Bad breath
  • A bad taste in your mouth that won’t go away
  • Red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums
  • Pain when chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Gums pulling away from your teeth
  • A feeling that your teeth don’t feel right when you bite
  • If you have dentures, a feeling that they no longer fit properly

As soon as you notice any changes to your gums, especially bleeding, you should speak to your Lakewood dentist. Otherwise, there’s a chance that you will develop the following periodontal diseases:

  • Chronic gingivitis: This is an earlier stage of periodontal disease that is completely reversible. At this stage, you experience inflammation, redness, and bleeding gums, but have not yet experienced bone loss.
  • Aggressive periodontitis: This is a fast-moving form of gum disease that causes rapid loss of gum attachment as well as bone destruction.
  • Chronic periodontitis: This form of periodontitis is slower in its progress.
  • Necrotizing periodontal disease: This is a severe form of periodontal disease that has progressed to the point of killing the gum tissue surrounding your tooth and connecting bone, leading to a foul smell and taste, as well as painful, bleeding gums.

The sooner you speak to your Lakewood, Colorado dentist, the easier it is to reverse the progress of gum disease.

What can you do to prevent periodontal disease?

There are some risk factors associated with an increased chance of getting periodontal disease, including:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Stress
  • Genetics
  • Crooked teeth
  • Immune-deficiencies such as AIDS
  • Defective fillings
  • Medications that cause dry mouth
  • Poorly fitting bridges

As you can see, although gum disease can be hereditary, in most cases you can prevent gum disease by:

  • Brushing and flossing every day
  • Scheduling Lakewood, CO dental checkups at least once a year to look for warning signs
  • Seeing your dentist as soon as you notice warning signs
  • Letting your dentist know if you have any of the risk factors listed above
  • Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and keeping a healthy diet 

Can you fix periodontal disease?

The longer you leave periodontal disease without treatment, the more advanced the gum disease becomes. This doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be treated, but that you will likely need more complex interventions. For mild cases of gingivitis, you can immediately reverse its progress by simply ensuring you brush and floss daily and have your annual dental cleanings and checkups.

Your dentist can also recommend products to assist in treating gingivitis or prescribe a prescription-strength antimicrobial mouthwash if you have issues with hard-to-reach areas. However, should your gum disease progress, you will require one of the following treatments to fix it:

  • Scaling and root planing: A dentist or dental hygienist “scrapes” your teeth to remove plaque and tartar buildup from your teeth and root surfaces. Depending on the severity of the buildup, you might require several visits.  
  • Pocket reduction procedure: This treatment is required when your gums are not fitting as close to your teeth as possible, causing what is called “deep pockets.” A pocket reduction procedure folds the gum tissue to remove infection and bacteria, and then reattaches the tissue to healthy bone.
  • Gum grafts: Gum grafts cover up exposed roots caused by periodontal disease. Skin is removed from your upper palate and then grafted to your gums to provide coverage. This reduces sensitivity while protecting your roots from decay. It also helps stop further issues such as bone loss.
  • Laser Therapy: Laser therapy is a less-invasive procedure that requires less recovery time and can address a number of issues caused by periodontal disease.

Other Treatments

There are also treatments for severe issues (such as infected lesions) that require clearing, or regenerative procedures (such as bone grafting) if your bone is impacted by the disease. Treating periodontal disease every three to four months can help with chronic health issues.


The best route to take when it comes to periodontal disease is prevention. If you feel it’s too late and you are struggling with some of the signs and symptoms listed above, it’s best to get checked right away. Schedule your next appointment here at our Lakewood, CO dental clinic and we’ll get to know you and evaluate your unique needs.

To learn more about our general Lakewood, Colorado dentistry services, visit this page here.

About the Author

Dr. Elizabeth Turner is a whole-health, family dentist in Lakewood, CO who provides general, restorative, and cosmetic dental care. She focuses on the mouth-body connection and helps her patients smile confidently, breathe clearer, and live healthier lives. 

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