Every day, dozens of people will visit Phoenix dentists with signs of gum disease. What starts as a little bit of swelling can progress into serious tissue damage. You could even lose teeth! Luckily, seeking treatment and improving your oral hygiene can slow and even resolve gum disease.


The first stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, or inflammation of gum tissue. Most people notice something’s wrong when they spit pink after brushing or see blood on their floss. The telltale symptoms are:


When gingivitis goes untreated, it can progress into a serious condition called periodontitis, which means “inflammation around the tooth.” In addition to all the symptoms of gingivitis, people with periodontitis may notice:

With periodontitis, the gums start to pull away from the sides of the teeth and form pockets. Bacteria pools in these pockets, and the infection can rapidly spread below the gum line. In time, toxic byproducts from the infection start breaking down the gums, jawbone and other structures that anchor teeth in place. The teeth can become loose and have to be removed. Many cases require extensive treatment to halt the infection and repair the damage.

What Causes Gum Disease?

Our mouths are full of bacteria that feed on sugars and starches in the foods we eat. Though harmless when swallowed, they form a sticky film on our teeth called plaque. When plaque isn’t kept in check with regular brushing and dental cleanings, it forms a hard buildup called tartar.

Plaque and tartar buildup keeps bacteria cozied up to your delicate gum tissue. The thicker the buildup, the more likely it is that the bacteria will get into the gum tissue and cause an infection. Gingivitis is a warning that the bacteria buildup is bad enough irritate the gums. Eventually, the buildup forces the gums to recede away from the teeth, and the disease progresses towards periodontitis.

There are many risk factors for gum disease, including:

Treating Gingivitis

In its early stages, gum disease can usually be treated simply and effectively. Make sure you’re brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day and are a biannual visitor to Phoenix dentists. Even people with perfect oral care routines will have mild tartar buildup, and only a dentist can remove it. You may also need a deeper cleaning, called a descaling, to eliminate significant buildup.

Gum disease usually affects people over 30, but it’s not uncommon for our Phoenix dentists to see young children with gingivitis. Poor oral hygiene coupled with a sugary diet is often the culprit. Cut back on sugar snacks and bring your child in to learn about proper oral care. Supervise them while they brush until you’re confident they’ve established good habits.

Treating Periodontitis

Depending on how far it’s progressed, periodontitis can require complex treatment. Antibiotics are a typical first line treatment and necessary in most cases. Descaling and a procedure called root planing, which cleans and smooths the area around the tooth’s root, can also help save teeth.

Another common procedure is flap surgery. Your dentist will lift your gums away from your teeth to clean below the gum line. The gums are then sutured snugly against the teeth to reduce the risk of infection and make the gum line easier for you to clean at home.

In severe cases, bone or tissue grafts might be necessary to help regrow damaged structures. Loose teeth may have to be pulled and replaced with dental implants. Replacing lost teeth is crucial. Teeth serve provide support to the bone in your jaw. When a tooth is missing, the bone around the cavity starts to degenerate. Implants provide both a new support for the bone and a base for a functional, attractive prosthetic.

If you suspect you have gum disease, fast treatment can minimize potential damage. At our office in Phoenix, you’ll find dentists that are friendly, caring and ready to help restore your oral health. Call today to schedule your appointment.