Quick Look At A Tooth Loss Leader: Periodontal ‘Gum’ Disease

Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee

As a doctor of dentistry, Nashville dentist Dr. Kent E. White, is extensively trained in oral health enhancement. Improving and maintaining overall health is the foundation of our approach. And, gum disease is a critical area where dental and overall health converge.

Gum (periodontal) disease is the LEADING cause of adult tooth loss. The destructive power of this gum tissue infection is considerable. For example, TOTAL tooth loss occurs in over 22 percent of the US population by the time a persons turns the age of 65.

REVIEW a Continuing Education Course, focused on (gum) soft tissue management, Dr. Kent White recently attended ~ click here.

As for Tennessee, sadly, we are near the top for tooth loss – at just over 32% – or 3rd out of 52 states and territories. Therefore, by the time a Tennessean turns 65, one out of every three will not have any teeth versus less than one out of four generally and the lowest tooth loss states
it is only about one out of every ten. (Source: StateMaster.com)

So Time To Take Back Our Oral Health!
What Should You Do?

  • First: Take a deep breath, and..
    • Realize the potential for making a change in YOUR situation have very few limits!
  • Second, Be proactive about your overall health.
  • Third, Prevent health complications caused by gum disease.
  • Fourth, Start Brushing and flossing regularly
  • Fifth, Know the Symptoms of Periodontal Disease (first List below)


Some Common Symptoms:

  • Gums Bleed after brushing
  • Teeth become loose 
  • Gums redden
  • Gums swell up
  • Sore gums
  • Bad breath/halitosis
  • Dentures become loose/fit is changes 
  • Teeth become sensitive
  • Gums pulling away from your teeth 
  • Your bite will change/how you bite down when eating 

AFTER – Dentistry By Dr. White NOTE: Some symptoms are very early, others later in the disease progression.
Periodontal disease is a managed or controlled and not a one time cure. Gum disease is always trying to takes more advantage of your teeth and mouth, establishing a beachhead to overwhelm your dental health. A place where the build up of dental plaque (generated by natural always present (microorganisms) can create an environment for oral/tooth decay. Some people will have less trouble than others because of genetic differences, but with few exceptions the damage will occur without some professionally administered treatments and therapies.

Once dental plaque becomes calculus/tartar (mineralized plaque) most generally used home care methods are unlikely to be effective in reversing the direction of the deterioration.

While losing teeth is a devastating experience, many people are likely to have other serious health complications before gum disease seriously affects their smile. According to recent medical studies, illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and pneumonia can be caused by the infectious buildup in the periodontal pockets around your teeth, and plaque on them.

Because periodontal disease is a blood infection, it has the potential to put serious stress on your immune system. Just like almost any infection can become serious – oral infections left untreated can be destructive as well.

Recent evidence suggests that poor dental hygiene results in substantial plaque buildup makes possible the development of oral ‘respiratory’ bacteria. The research points toward unhealthy organisms finding their way from the periodontal pockets to the lower airway, causing lung infection.

Those with a destructive form of periodontal disease are most affected by pneumonia, which causes 100,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. While not as obvious missing teeth, this infection – at whatever stage it has progressed – should not be ignored.

From a positive perspective, one study showed a simple preventative dental care treatment was able to reduce pneumonia rates by 65% in patients in the clinical trial noted on the CDC website.

In addition to respiratory diseases, periodontal infections are also linked to various other ailments noted below.

Healthy Mouth. Healthy Patient. Healthy Practice.

The bacteria that causes periodontal disease can reach far beyond the oral cavity and are associated with other health issues such as:

  • Uncontrolled diabetes
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Strokes
  • Respiratory infections
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Osteoporosis
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dementia
  • Kidney disease
  • Oral cancer

Terminology & Other Oral Health Information

Our Hygienist with Patient
Gingivitis is characterized by localized inflammation, swelling, and bleeding gums without a loss of the bone that supports the teeth. Daily removal of dental plaque from the teeth is extremely important to prevent gingivitis.

Pregnancy gingivitis is a form of periodontal disease, which if left untreated may lead to a more severe form of periodontal disease, known as periodontitis, commonly called gum disease. Brushing and flossing every day can reverse gingivitis, the body’s response to the sticky, bacterial plaque that constantly forms on teeth that can lead to severe periodontal disease.

(Source: CDC, oral health)

Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease caused by infection of the supporting tissues around the teeth. Periodontitis starts with dental plaque. This clear, sticky film builds up on your teeth from starches and sugars interact with naturally forming bacteria in your mouth. It is necessary to remove plaque every day with brushing and flossing because it quickly build up again in about 24 hours.

(Source: CDC, oral health)

When plaque stays on your teeth longer than two or three days, it can harden under your gumline into tartar/calculus. This stubborn white buildup makes plaque harder to remove, creating a pool for bacteria to play out its damaging affects. And, brushing and flossing can’t eliminate tartar — only a dental visit style professional cleaning will do the job to get rid of it. (source: Wikipedia/dental)

Oral Health for Adults (Source: CDC, oral health)


Tobacco. Smokers have 4 times the risk of developing gum disease compared to non-smokers. Tobacco use in any form—cigarette, pipes, and smokeless (spit) tobacco—increases the risk for gum disease, oral and throat cancers, and oral fungal infection (candidiasis). Sugar in spit tobacco increases tooth decay risks.

Alcohol. Heavy use of alcohol is also a risk factor for oral and throat cancers. When used alone, alcohol and tobacco are risk factors for oral cancers, but when used in combination the effects of alcohol and tobacco are even greater.

Diabetes. Diabetic patients should work as hard as possible control their disease. This helps prevent diabetic complications like an increased risk of gum disease.

Medications. Do any of your medicines produce dry mouth? If so, ask your doctor if there is a substitute drug. If the dry mouth can’t be avoided, drink enough water, chew sugarless gum, and avoid tobacco and alcohol to avoid gum disease.

MORE Oral Health Facts (source: CDC)

AFTER – OUR Patient

Bone Loss & Gum Pockets/Disease Formation

Periodontitis destroys the bone that support your teeth. This causes the loose teeth problem, which is noticeable after many years of missed dental visits for ongoing periodontal treatment. Many studies have shown that non-surgical scaling and root planing is often successful when pockets are shallower than 4–5 millimeters.

Pockets in the 5-6 millimeter range and larger which remain after initial treatments, and still bleeding after probing, usually mean ongoing disease, leading often to more bone loss in the future. It is more likely with molar teeth where there are ‘defective areas’ around the tooth roots can be seen.

(source: Wikipedia/dental)

Gentle Gum Check By Hygienist Causes BleedingUMN Div. of Periodontology

It means there is inflammation when bleeding occurs during gentle probing. Bleeding can be seen almost instantly when a site is probed or not for 10 seconds or so after a site is probed.

The clinical periodontal evaluation is used by the Center For Advanced Dentistry team to gather information about your gum, bone and teeth health. Dr. White wants to have the whole picture of your periodontal health status. Many facts gathered during the periodontal assessment involves the use of a periodontal probe.

Another Good Article 

REVIEW a Continuing Education Course, focused on (gum) soft tissue managementLVI trained restorative and cosmetic dentist, Dr. Kent White recently attended ~ click here.