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Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a progressive condition and the leading cause of tooth loss amongst adults in the developed world. Periodontal disease occurs when the toxins found in plaque begin to irritate or inflame the gingiva (gum tissue). 

The resulting bacterial infection, often known as gingivitis, can eventually lead to the destruction of the gum tissue and underlying bone. If periodontal disease is not treated, it can also lead to loose teeth or tooth loss.

There are many common types of periodontal disease, including aggressive, chronic, necrotizing periodontitis, and periodontitis associated with systemic diseases. Each of these types of periodontal disease has its own distinct characteristics and symptoms, and all require prompt treatment by Dr. Presser or one of our hygienists at Presser Dental Group to halt subsequent bone and tissue loss.

Common Signs and Symptoms

It is extremely important to note that periodontal disease can progress without any signs or symptoms such as pain. This is why regular dental checkups are exceptionally important. Described below are some of the most common signs and symptoms of periodontitis.

Unexplained Bleeding

Bleeding when brushing, flossing, or eating food is one of the most common symptoms of a periodontal infection. The toxins in plaque cause a bacterial infection which makes the tissues prone to bleeding.

Pain, Redness, or Swelling

A periodontal infection may be present if the gums are swollen, red or painful for no apparent reason. It is essential to halt the progression of the infection before the gum tissue and jaw bone have been affected. It is also critical to treat the infection before it is carried into the bloodstream to other areas of the body.

Longer-Looking Teeth

Periodontal disease can lead to gum recession. The toxins produced by bacteria can destroy the supporting tissue and bones, thus making the teeth look longer and the smile appear more “toothy.”

Bad Breath or Halitosis

Although breath odor can originate from back of the tongue, the lungs and stomach, from the food we consume, or from tobacco use, bad breath may be caused by old food particles which sit between the teeth and underneath the gum line. The deeper gum pockets are able to house more debris and bacteria, causing a foul odor.

Loose Teeth or Change in Bite Pattern

A sign of rapidly progressing periodontitis is the loosening or shifting of the teeth in the affected area. As the bone tissue gets destroyed, teeth that were once firmly attached to the jawbone become loose or may shift in position.


Pus oozing from between the teeth is a definitive sign that a periodontal infection is in progress. The pus is a result of the body trying to fight the bacterial infection.

Treatment of Periodontal Disease

It is of paramount importance to halt the progression of periodontal disease before it causes further damage to the gum tissues and jawbone. Dr. Presser will initially assess the whole mouth in order to ascertain the progress of the disease. When a diagnosis has been made, we may treat the bacterial infection with antibiotics in conjunction with nonsurgical or surgical treatment or both.

In the case of moderate periodontal disease, the pockets (under the gum line) of the teeth will be completely cleared of debris using a procedure called scaling and root planing. The pockets may be filled with antibiotics to promote good healing and kill any bacteria that remain.

Treatment of Severe Periodontitis

Laser Treatment

This can be used to reduce the size of the pockets between the teeth and the gums.

Tissue and Bone Grafting

Where a considerable amount of bone or gum tissue has been destroyed, we might refer you to a specialist (periodontist) to graft new tissue by inserting a membrane to stimulate tissue growth.

Pocket Elimination Surgery

Flap surgery may be necessary to reduce size of gum pockets. If you have any further questions or if you have any signs and symptoms of periodontal disease, contact our office to make an appointment with Dr. Presser or one of our hygienists. You may also get in touch with us to learn more about our services in and around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.