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What is Gum Disease?
Winston-Salem, NC

Image of a healthy tooth compared to a tooth with gum disease at Gibson & Bartholomew Restorative and Esthetic Dentistry. Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a very common oral ailment. The disease typically begins as an accumulation of bacteria in your mouth, but if it is allowed to progress, can lead to permanent tissue damage and eventual tooth loss.

At Gibson & Bartholomew Restorative and Esthetic Dentistry, we can prevent gum disease or stop it in its tracks.

Stages of Gum Disease

If bacterial plaque is not properly cleaned, it can accumulate on your teeth and gums and harden into calculus. This calculus cannot be cleaned easily at home and requires professional dental intervention. If not, it can lead to gum disease.


Gingivitis is the initial and mildest form of gum disease. It can cause your gums to become tender, inflamed and make them bleed during brushing. At this stage, all you need to do is schedule a professional cleaning appointment with Dr. Kurt Gibson to eliminate the bacteria and reverse the damage.

However, if you are negligent about your oral care, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis.


Untreated gingivitis will promote the growth of plaque below the gum line. The acids from the bacteria will irritate your gums and make them swollen and prone to bleeding. This condition can be painful and will be accompanied by bad breath. During this stage, the tissues that support the teeth are broken down.

In addition, deep pockets will form between your gums and teeth as bacteria invade further into your gums. This will cause gum recession and exposure of tooth roots.

At this stage, there will be moderate damage but we can still save your teeth if you come to us for treatment. However, if the disease is allowed to run unchecked, pretty soon your teeth can become loose and fall out.

In cases of necrotizing periodontal disease, the gums, ligaments, bones and hard tissues are irreparably damaged and this can also lead to lower jaw density.

Factors That Cause Gum Disease

Bacterial plaque is the main cause of gum disease. However, there are many contributory factors that can also lead to gum disease, including:
•  Hormonal changes during puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause.
•  Chronic, systemic, or autoimmune diseases like HIV, diabetes, or cancer.
•  Medication that can result in dry mouth because of low saliva flow.
•  Substance misuse like alcohol and drug abuse as well as smoking.
•  Poor hygiene due to neglectful brushing and flossing and failure to keep routine dental appointments.
•  Genetic factors like a family history of dental disease.

Prevention and Treatment of Gum Disease

The progression of gum disease can be stopped and its damage mitigated in almost all cases with proper plaque control. This can be done by brushing twice a day every day and flossing at least once a day. The American Dental Association also advocates getting a professional dental exam and a dental cleaning twice a year.

If you have active gum disease, we can treat you with:
•  Deep cleaning: involves non-invasive, non-surgical method to eliminate gum disease. These include scaling to remove tartar from beneath the gum line, and root planing to smoothen the surface of the tooth root to make it difficult for bacteria to adhere to it.
•  Antiseptic medication: You may also be prescribed medication like antiseptic mouthrinses containing chlorhexidine, time-release antiseptic chips, oral antibiotics, or doxycycline.
•  Oral surgery: including flap surgery where the gums are lifted back to remove plaque that has traveled deep into the gums. In severe cases, gum and bone graft surgery may also be done to augment gums, teeth, and jawbone that are too damaged to heal on their own.

Schedule an Appointment

According to the CDC, gum disease has also been associated with other health diseases like diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and high blood pressure, stroke, lung disease, complications during birth and low baby weight. That is why it is so important to get treated if you suspect you have gum disease. To schedule a consultation, call us today at (336) 283-2593.

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What is Gum Disease? | Kurt A. Gibson, DDS, PA - Winston-Salem, NC
At Kurt A. Gibson, DDS, PA, we can prevent gum disease or stop it in its tracks. Click here to learn more.
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