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Gum Disease


Your Guide to Gum Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

By Gum Disease No Comments

A lot of times, when people think of their oral health, the teeth instantly come to mind. However, the gums are incredibly important as well. Our gum tissue, or gingiva, helps to hold the teeth in place and serves as a protective seal to keep out harmful bacteria. Additionally, the health of our gums is tied to our overall health since gum disease is linked to a host of problems, including tooth loss, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and, in women, premature birth and low-birth-weight babies. Our Naperville general dentists and specialists are gum disease experts and we’re covering the basics here in our guide to gum disease. 

Key Highlights:

  • Gum disease is caused by a bacterial infection and, if untreated, can lead to the destruction of the bone and connective tissue that support the teeth. 
  • The signs of gum disease include red, swollen, bleeding gums, changes in your bite, bad breath and receding gums. 
  • Gingivitis is gum disease in its earliest stages and is still reversible with professional cleanings and proper homecare.
  • Periodontitis, the more advanced stage of gum disease, isn’t reversible but can be managed by your dentist to prevent further damage and tooth loss. 
  • Gum disease treatment options include professional dental cleaning, scaling and root planing, and more extensive procedures. 

What is Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is when bacteria in the mouth cause infection and inflammation of the gums and surrounding tissues. It can progress and lead to the destruction of the bone, which in turn, can eventually result in tooth loss. There are stages of gum disease. The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis. This is when plaque buildup at the gumline causes inflammation. You may notice red, swollen, sore gum tissue and bleeding when you floss. However, in this early stage, gum disease can be reversed. 

The next stage of periodontal disease is periodontitis. Once gingivitis advances to periodontitis, the bone and connective tissue that support the teeth have been damaged irreversibly. You may start to form pockets below the gumline that trap plaque and food. Your dentist, along with a solid homecare routine, can prevent further damage. 

The final step in the stages of gum disease is advanced periodontitis. The connective tissue and bone have been destroyed and your teeth have likely shifted or started to loosen. Aggressive treatment could help to save the teeth but, if it fails, you could need to have some teeth removed. 

Gum Disease Symptoms

The symptoms and signs of gum disease, include:

  • Puffy, swollen gums
  • Gums that bleed
  • Bright red or purplish gums
  • Gums that are tender when touched
  • Spitting out blood after brushing or flossing
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between the teeth and gums
  • Receding gums that make your teeth look longer than normal
  • Change in your bite (the way the teeth fit together)
  • Loose teeth 
  • Pain when chewing
  • Spaces developing between teeth that weren’t there before
  • Change in the fit of partial dentures
  • Tooth loss

What Causes Gum Disease?

As for what causes gum disease, the main cause is plaque build-up. When plaque accumulates on the gumline because it’s not removed with brushing, flossing and professional dental cleanings, it can lead to gingivitis. If this isn’t treated and reversed, it will eventually cause periodontitis. However, there are other risk factors that increase the likelihood a person develops gum disease, including:

  • Smoking or using chewing tobacco
  • Certain medications, such as anticonvulsants, oral contraceptives, steroids, calcium channel blockers and chemotherapy
  • Crowded or crooked teeth that are hard to clean
  • Diabetes
  • Poorly fitted dental appliances
  • Pregnancy
  • Genetics
  • Compromised immunity as with HIV/AIDS

Gum Disease Treatment

When you have gingivitis, it’s all about reversing gum disease and this can often be done with a professional dental cleaning and a dedicated homecare routine. When you come in for a cleaning, a team member will gently remove the hardened plaque, called calculus or tartar, that you can’t get rid of with a toothbrush at home. You’ll want to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss once daily in between cleanings. We may also suggest or prescribe a mouthwash depending on your needs. 

If misaligned teeth are at the root of your gingivitis, once we reverse the infection, you may want to consider orthodontic treatment because straight teeth are easier to clean, which can prevent a recurrence of gum disease. As part of Innovative Dental Partners, we’re under the same roof as Innovative Orthodontic Centers. Board-certified orthodontists Dr. Manal Ibrahim and Dr. Christine Gin offer cutting-edge treatment, such as Invisalign® and braces with SureSmile® prescription wires to achieve results more more comfortably and conveniently. Not only will straightening your teeth improve your oral health but, as an added bonus, you’ll get a fantastic smile too. 

If you have periodontitis, you may require scaling and root planing. This is where we get rid of buildup above and below the gumline all the way to the bottom of the gum pockets. We then smooth the tooth roots, which helps prevent plaque from sticking to them. We may also use antibiotics or an antimicrobial cream to prevent infection. That may sound intimidating, but at Naperville Dental Specialists, we believe in painless dentistry and use the latest advances to make procedures comfortable. Once we’ve completed this deep cleaning, you’ll just come in for regular maintenance appointments so we can prevent plaque buildup and keep your gums healthy. 

In cases of advanced periodontitis, there are other gum disease treatment options, such as flap surgery and grafts, which you’ll discuss with your dentist on an individual basis. While reversing gum disease isn’t a possibility at this point, these procedures can sometimes save your teeth. You’ll also have to continue with gum disease treatment at home with regular brushing, flossing and mouthwash. 

Are you interested in Naperville gum disease treatment? Schedule a visit at Naperville Dental Specialists today by calling us at (630) 848-2010! Our knowledgeable dentists will help you restore your gums to optimal health. You can read about the measures we’re taking to keep our patients safe during the coronavirus here

Is surgery usually recommended for gum disease?

By Gum Disease, Oral Health

I have 4 crowns that I got in 2002. My gums are inflamed around all of the crowns. The inflammation became noticeable in January. My dentist has tried antibacterial liquid. She asked me to start flossing 2 times a day. The gums around my natural teeth are fine. It’s just the teeth that have crowns that are presenting the problem. My dentist is suggesting gum surgery to trim my gum tissue. She says it might not work but if there is a problem with the way the crowns fit, trimming my gums will help. I’m wondering why after 15 years there would be a problem with the way my gums fit. For some reason, after examining my teeth and gums my dentist is confident that I don’t have gum disease. That’s somewhat of a relief but I am wondering what’s going on. If she isn’t sure that gum surgery will work, why is she recommending it? Is this normal procedure? Thanks. Norm

Norm – Gum inflammation that is around teeth with crowns, but not around your natural teeth, can result from several issues.

Some possible causes are listed below, but in each case, the reaction would be immediate. It wouldn’t take 15 years to surface:

  • The area around the crowns wasn’t thoroughly cleaned and left free of cement.
  • The crowns don’t fit correctly.
  • The crowns fit too deeply below the gumline.

Other possibilities that are not necessarily immediate include:

  • Metal sensitivity to porcelain-fused-to-metal crowns.
  • Periodontal (gum disease) that can be related to your oral health or your general health.

If you have gum disease, the treatment includes regular, deep cleanings to remove plaque and bacteria from the pockets between your teeth and gums. Gum surgery is not the first resort. If your dentist doesn’t understand how to address the problem, you should be referred to a periodontist—a specialist in gum tissue.

Your dentist hasn’t referred you to a periodontist, so it’s probably best to find one on your own. You can look for online reviews or call other dentists’ office to ask which periodontists they use for their own patients. Don’t allow your dentist’s lack of understanding to delay you from getting help.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Will gum disease prevent me from getting dental implants?

By Dental Implants, Gum Disease, Oral Health

I have gum disease and I’m losing teeth. I want dental implants to replace them but my dentist tells me that he has to get my gum disease under control first. It was February of 2016 when he first told me I have gum disease and it seems like it hasn’t gotten any better. I’m not sure what is taking so long to get it straightened out. I don’t want to keep losing teeth while he tries to get things under control. Can I get dental implants from another dentist or do I have to wait for my dentist to figure out what he is doing? Thanks. Karmin

Karmin – Dental implants are the best option to replace teeth that are loose or missing due to periodontal (gum) disease. Before you receive implants, periodontal disease should be under control. If it’s been a year, and your dentist isn’t able to control your gum disease, it might be time to visit a periodontist—a specialist in diseases of the gum tissue.

How Periodontal Disease Can Affect Dental Implants

Dental implants are most successful in people with sufficient bone density and healthy gum tissue. Here’s why periodontal disease should be controlled first:

  • Advanced periodontal disease damages gum tissue and bone. Bone and gums should have a snug fit around tooth roots or dental implant fixtures.
  • If gum disease has caused your gums to recede, the base of your dental implants will be exposed. It will be challenging to keep the exposed area clean and free of plaque buildup.
  • Thin or receding gums around an implant fixture are unattractive. Either the fixture will show through thin gums, or be completely exposed if your gums recede.

We recommend that you have a consultation with an experienced prosthodontist. After an examination, 3-D x-rays, and a review of your medical history, he or she will let you know if you are a candidate for this treatment.

The prosthodontist will also determine if your gums are healthy enough and thick enough to support dental implants. Bone grafting and gum tissue grafting might be needed to ensure stability and success of your implants. In several months, the grafts will heal, and the implant fixtures will be surgically placed in your jawbone.

After your periodontal disease is controlled, if you receive dental implants, your oral health will likely improve. The fixtures stimulate bone grown and promote healthy gum tissue.

This post is sponsored by Naperville board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca

2 loose teeth

By General Dentistry, Gum Disease

I have 2 loose teeth. I get dental cleanings regularly and I am sure that they have noticed my teeth are loose but I think it’s strange that no one ever said anything to me. My sister told me that I should check with another dentist just to be sure that nothing serious is wrong. Now I am scared and a little angry that this problem was overlooked. I got my teeth cleaned 2 months ago. Wouldn’t they have noticed a problem? If I go to a dentist with loose teeth will they automatically pull them out? – Faith P.

Faith – If you go to the dentist with loose teeth, he or she will x-ray and examine your teeth to determine why they are loose.

Trauma can cause loose teeth, in which case they may need to be stabilized. Have you recently experienced trauma to your teeth? Over time, grinding your teeth can cause them to become loose. Also, if teeth are misaligned, they can put pressure on other teeth and cause them to become loose.

Periodontal (gum) disease is another cause of loose teeth. If you have periodontal disease, loss of gum and bone around a tooth can make it loose.

Your dentist or a periodontist may perform a periodontal pocket procedure to fold back your gum tissue and remove the bacterial. Damaged bone may be smoothed. This procedure will help your gum tissue attach itself to the healthy bone.

Instead of extracting your teeth, every effort will be made to save them. If it is necessary to extract a tooth, it can be replaced with a dental implant.

Don’t worry excessively though, the cause of your loose teeth has to be determined first. Your dentist will recommend options. Since you are seeking a new dentist, we recommend that you find a prosthodontist—a specialist with advanced training in restoring teeth. You can get a second opinion before you make a final decision for a dental provider.

This blog post is sponsored by Naperville board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

My son’s gums bleed when he brushes his teeth

By Gum Disease, Oral Health, Pediatric Dentist

I finally got our 4 yr old into brushing his teeth twice a day. He actually started liking it. I was surprised. 2 weeks ago he was brushing and I was helping and his gums started bleeding. I had him rinse his mouth and everything was okay. I figured maybe he was brushing too hard, so I told him to do it softly. That seemed to work until last week. He was brushing his teeth on 2 different occasions and the gums started bleeding again. I am trying to be calm about this because he is just comfortable with brushing his teeth and I don’t want him to freak out or think that brushing teeth means bleeding gums. I know that he isn’t brushing too hard any more. Does he have gum disease at 4? Thanks. Tuscany

Tuscany – There are several possible causes of your son’s bleeding gums. For an accurate diagnosis, though, schedule an appointment with your son’s pediatric dentist.

One possible cause is dry mouth. Does your son breathe with his mouth open? Does he drink plenty of water daily? Or is he taking medication that has dry mouth as a side effect? Any of these factors can cause the gums to become tight, dry, and more likely to bleed.

Vigorous brushing is another cause of bleeding gums, but you have mentioned that your son isn’t brushing his teeth tooth hard. Continue to monitor him to ensure that he isn’t brushing aggressively. A soft-bristled toothbrush should be used.

There are certain medical conditions, including some auto-immune conditions that can cause gums to bleed easily. Bleeding gums may be related to the beginning stages of periodontal (gum disease).

Again, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with your son’s pediatric dentist for accurate diagnosis and treatment. If you have already seen a pediatric dentist about the issue, consider getting a second opinion and speaking with your medical doctor about it.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Why are my gums bleeding?

By Gum Disease

My gums have been bleeding on and off for the past 3 months. Now it’s getting really bad and it’s scaring me too. I brush my teeth every day. What could be causing the problem? – Razi


Razi – Bleeding gums are most frequently related to inadequate removal of plaque between your teeth and gums. Plaque buildup can cause your gums inflammation, or gingivitis. If the bleeding increases and your gums become infected, you have developed periodontal disease, or gum disease.

But bleeding gums can also be the result of aggressive tooth brushing. Certain medications and certain medical conditions can cause your gums to bleed.

Be certain to regularly floss and brush your teeth to remove plaque and prevent bacterial from growing on your teeth. Schedule a dental appointment to have your teeth and gums examined. If there is a plaque buildup, a deep dental cleaning can remove it and prevent you from developing further problems. Until the issue is completely under control, you may have to receive dental cleanings more often.

If your dentist finds that your bleeding gums are not related caused by a dental issue, he or she will refer you to your primary care doctor.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Should my teeth be bleeding after wisdom teeth were pulled?

By Gum Disease

Hi. I got all 4 wisdom teeth pulled yesterday. 2 are still bleeding. Is this normal? B.T.


B.T. – After wisdom teeth are extracted, there are common symptoms that you will experience, and light bleeding is one of them.

After the teeth are extracted, you can also expect swelling and mild discomfort. A cold compress will help to decrease some of the swelling. The swelling should improve in three or four days.

Your diet should also be modified. Eat soft foods for the first few days after the extraction. Also, avoid sucking through a straw or excessive spitting. The pressure can dislodge blood clots at the extractions sites and cause the areas to bleed more.

You should call your dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • the swelling worsens after three days
  • the bleeding increases
  • you have a fever
  • your pain is severe and the pain medication prescribed doesn’t help
  • you have a bad taste in your mouth that doesn’t go away with salt water rinses
  • there is pus or other fluid coming from the extraction site
  • your mouth feels numb


Since you received the extractions yesterday, your symptoms should improve over the weekend.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Is it okay to get dental work done while I am pregnant?

By Gum Disease, Tooth Decay, Toothache

Hello. My baby is due in July. I need dental work done, but it is nothing critical. My dentist says that my pregnancy is not an issue. I won’t say that I don’t trust my dentist, but I don’t know him well. We recently moved from Ohio six months ago, so this is a new dentist for me. I just want to verify that there is no known problem with getting the work done at this stage of my pregnancy. Thank you. Rachel

Rachel – At this stage of your pregnancy, one of the biggest problems with getting dental work done is your comfort. You will be reclined, so you may experience discomfort during the treatment.

What type of dental work is being done? Have you been told how long the dental procedure will take?

Dental cleanings and exams during pregnancy should continue as normal. You want your teeth to be kept clean to reduce the chances of having tooth decay or gum disease. Dental x-rays and invasive dental treatment should be avoided.

If you are in pain with a toothache, or if there is an infection in your tooth, it should be treated promptly to stop the infection.

If you have the dental work done, consider bringing a pillow or whatever back support makes you comfortable. Speak with your dentist about any concerns you have about being comfortable. The staff will make the effort to get you as comfortable as possible.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Risk factors and symptoms of gum disease

By Gum Disease

Last week while driving, I was listening to XM radio and found a station with a guest dentist. She talked about gum disease and that you can get it even if you regularly brush and floss your teeth. That doesn’t make sense to me. I didn’t catch the entire segment because I had an appointment to keep. Are there certain contributing factors for gum disease? Also, what are the symptoms of gum disease? I’m not the best at keeping dental appointments, so I’m interested in knowing what to look for. Thanks –  Briana


Gum disease is mainly caused by plaque, but there are other risks factors. Tobacco use increases the risk of gum disease. Stress makes it more difficult for the body to fight infection, including periodontal disease. Certain medications can affect your oral health. Some inflammatory diseases can promote inflammation in your gums.

Poor nutrition can affect the body’s ability to fight infection and disease, which can affect your gums. Grinding your teeth puts pressure on the teeth and gums, and can affect gum tissue. Some people are genetically disposed to gum disease. And gum disease is more common among the elderly.

What are the symptoms of gum disease?

  • Pus in your gums, or between your teeth and gums
  • Inflamed, red, or sore gums
  • Gums that bleed when your brush your teeth or eat certain foods
  • Loosening of  teeth
  • Increase in spaces between teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Persistent bad breath
  • A change in the way partial dentures fit
  • Mouth sores


Early detection of gum disease is makes treatment easier. Stopping the progression of gum disease can save your teeth and help avoid more aggressive treatment. Regular dental check-ups with an examination of your teeth and gums are critical to preventing gum disease and to detecting it early.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Gum disease and dental insurance

By Gum Disease

I’ve been told I have gum disease, but I haven’t been able to afford to go back to do anything about it. I don’t have any dental insurance and I just can’t afford to keep going. My two lower teeth are coming loose. I am afraid I am going to lose them. Help! I don’t know what to do.


I have to tell you that this is pretty serious. Once teeth are loose there usually isn’t anything you can do to save them. If you have two teeth loose already the others aren’t that far behind.

The only way to get a handle on this is not depend on dental insurance and take things into your own hands. Go in for cleanings and be very faithful with your home oral hygiene. It doesn’t have to be that expensive. I have a friend in another state who doesn’t have dental insurance and is on a very tight budget. She goes to a dental school to get her teeth cleaned. They only charge her about $25.00 per visit. I’d look into that. You really don’t want to put this off any longer. Gum disease if very serious. You could end up losing quite a few teeth.

This blog is brought to you by Naperville Dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

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