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Defining Periodontal (Gum) Disease | United Concordia

Common Dental Questions

Defining Periodontal (Gum) Disease



What is periodontal (gum) disease?



Periodontal (gum) disease is an inflammation of the gum tissue around the tooth due to harmful bacteria that build up in your mouth. Periodontal disease starts as gingivitis, and if not treated, can progress to a more serious condition known as periodontitis.


  • Gingivitis: The mildest form of gum disease. If caught early, it should be reversible.
  • Periodontitis: A more severe form of gum disease that can result in bone and root damage or even tooth loss.


Even in the advanced stages of periodontitis, any discomfort may be mild. 


Symptoms can include: 

  • Receding gums
  • Heat and cold sensitivity due to exposed roots
  • Pus between the teeth and gums
  • Bad breath that does not go away
  • A change in the way the teeth fit together when they bite
  • A change in the fit of partial dentures
  • Loose or shifting teeth


Other factors that can influence the development and progression of periodontal disease include:

  • Genetics—up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to gum disease
  • Hormonal changes in women caused by puberty, pregnancy and menopause
  • Medications that can reduce the production of saliva, such as oral contraceptives, anti-depressants, certain heart medicines
  • Stress
  • Clenching or grinding the teeth, putting additional stress on their supporting structures
  • Medical conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, HIV infection, malnutrition or a weakened immune system 


Is periodontal disease serious?

Yes. It is an infection that can lead to tooth loss or even spread to the rest of your body. Once you have periodontal disease, you must visit a qualified dental professional to treat it fully.