Posts for tag: periodontal disease

By Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
June 24, 2019
Category: Oral Health

GumsAre you noticing that your gums have started to bleed rather frequently whenever you brush or floss? If you said “yes” we know that this issue can be a little alarming; however, it could be your gum’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. Learn more about gum disease, the telltale symptoms and when to see our Marion, AR, family dentist Dr. Wayne Cook.

What are the different stages of gum disease?

There are three distinct stages of gum disease:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Advanced periodontitis

Gingivitis is the earliest stage, which is characterized by the development of gum inflammation dues to tartar buildup. When plaque isn’t properly removed during brushing and flossing it can harden into tartar, which can’t be removed with your regular toothbrush; however, our Marion, AR, family dentist has the tools to remove tartar and plaque during routine cleanings.

If gingivitis is detected during a routine cleaning the good news is that with proper lifestyle changes and improved oral hygiene you can actually reverse this disease; however, if gingivitis isn’t detected and treated it will progress into periodontitis. Periodontitis is when infected pockets form in the spaces between the gums and the teeth, affecting how the gums support teeth.

Advanced periodontitis is the last stage of gum disease and this is when the infected pockets have grown so extensively that the gums can no longer fully support the teeth, causing loose teeth or tooth loss. This can also affect the health of the jawbone.

What are the warning signs of gum disease?

Gum disease doesn’t always cause symptoms. This is why everyone, no matter how healthy you think your smile is, should visit their dentist every six months for cleanings; however, you should schedule an immediate appointment if you notice any of these issues:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Puffy, swollen gums
  • Gums that are tender to the touch
  • Receding gums or gums that have pulled away from the teeth
  • Pus between teeth and gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Changes in your bite or how your dentures fit together
  • Loose teeth

How can you prevent gum disease?

Fortunately, with a healthy lifestyle you can easily prevent gum disease. These gum-healthy habits include:

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing once a day
  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet that is low in sugar
  • Avoiding or quitting tobacco
  • Visiting your family dentist twice a year

No matter whether you are dealing with dental issues or you just need to schedule your next cleaning, don’t hesitate to call our Marion, AR, dental practice today to book an appointment or to learn more about the different dental services we offer.


Periodontal (gum) disease is a serious infection that can damage more than periodontal tissues — supporting bone structure is also at risk. Any bone loss could eventually lead to tooth loss.

To stop it from causing this kind of damage, we must match this disease's aggressiveness with equally aggressive treatment. The various treatment techniques all have the same goal: to remove bacterial plaque, the source of the infection, from all oral surfaces, including below the gum line. Buildup of plaque, a thin film of food particles, after only a few days without adequate brushing and flossing is enough time to trigger gum disease.

The basic removal technique is called scaling, using hand instruments called scalers to manually remove plaque and calculus (hardened plaque deposits) above or just below the gum line. If the disease or infection has advanced to the roots, we may use another technique called root planing in which we shave or “plane” plaque and tartar from the root surfaces.

Advancing gum disease also causes a number of complex problems like abscesses (localized infections in certain areas of gum tissue) or periodontal pockets. In the latter circumstance the slight normal gap between tooth and gums becomes deeper as the tissues weaken and pull away. This forms a void or pocket that fills with inflammation or infection that must be removed. Plaque buildup can also occur around furcations, the places where a tooth's roots divide off from one another.

It may be necessary in these more complex situations to perform a procedure known as flap surgery to gain access to these infected areas. As the name implies, we create an opening in the gums with a hinge, much like the flap of a paper envelope. Once the accessed area has been cleansed of plaque and infected tissues (and often treated with antibiotics to stop further infection), the flapped tissue is closed back in place and sutured.

To avoid these advanced stages it's important for you to see us at the first sign of problems: swollen, red or bleeding gums. Even more important is to reduce your risk for gum disease in the first place with dedicated daily brushing and flossing to remove plaque and regular dental visits for more thorough cleaning.

Gum disease can be devastating to your long-term dental health. But with diligent hygiene and early aggressive treatment you can stop this destructive disease in its tracks.

If you would like more information on treating gum disease, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Treating Difficult Areas of Periodontal Disease.”

Marion, AR Family Dentist
Wayne Cook, D.D.S.
303 Bancario Rd.Suite 7
Marion, AR 72364
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