Treating Gum or Periodontal Disease

Periodontal simply means “the tissue around the teeth.” Periodontists specialize in the treatment and surgery of this area, which is often characterized by gum disease. Bacterial plaque is the most common element causing gum disease.

Unfortunately, periodontal-related problems are often discovered after they have persisted for an extended period of time. Proper oral hygiene and periodic dental exams and cleanings will minimize the risk of gum disease. Gum disease ranges from mild (gingivitis) to moderate or severe periodontal disease. Treatments are available for every case of gum disease.

Common problems associated with gum disease:

  • “Long” teeth (receding gum lines expose the root portions of your teeth)
  • Discolored or deteriorating tooth structure
  • Gum depressions (holes in between the teeth in the gum tissue)
  • Infected gum line (discoloration or inflammation of the gum tissue)
  • Tooth loss or tooth movement
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Increased risk of tooth decay due to exposed roots

The effects of gum disease can be damaging to your dental health. However, through proper preventive care and oral hygiene, you can avoid problems associated with gum disease.

Please contact our office for a periodontal evaluation.

Even when periodontal disease is in a fairly advanced stage, it is possible to improve or even reverse the condition with non-surgical procedures. Depending on the type of disease and its severity, one of these approaches may be suggested by Dr. Riehl.


This process can be done above or below the gum line and involves the removal of plaque and calculus (tartar) from the tooth. Scaling done at regular teeth cleanings usually involves the crown of the tooth. However, in more extreme circumstances, it is necessary to go further below the gum line to thoroughly remove disease causing bacteria and its by-products on the root surface. In very advanced cases, flap surgery or gingivectomy may be necessary to allow the doctor free access to the infected tooth root.


After the thorough cleaning of the tooth surface has been completed above and below the gumline, the root of the tooth undergoes a process called planing. This is a process of smoothing the root of the tooth so that any remaining tartar is removed. This also serves two other purposes: it clears away any rough areas that bacteria below the gum line thrive in, and it makes it much easier for the gingival (gum) tissue to re-attach itself to the tooth, effectively reducing the size of the pockets that the plaque and bacteria hide in. This re-growth of tissue is key in stopping a recurrence of gum disease and happens very quickly once the calculus has been removed.

With either of these procedures, Dr. Riehl may prescribe you either local or systemic antibiotics or a specially indicated mouth rinse.

  • Early gum disease begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Gums in the early stage of disease, or gingivitis, can bleed easily and become red and swollen. Gingivitis is reversible, highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing and flossing.
  • Maintain or prevent gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is irreversible, characterized by chronic inflammation of the gum tissue and below, caused by genetics and the bacteria in the plaque around your teeth. Tobacco use, grinding your teeth, poor oral care, some medications, chronic stress, poor diet, pregnancy, menopause or other underlying medical issues influence periodontal disease negatively, increasing the likelihood of tooth loss. Brushing and flossing, combined with regular professional care, are critical factors in preventing tooth loss and reducing the chance of developing other serious illnesses. For more information about gingivitis and periodontal disease see this link.
  • Gum Disease – Gum disease begins with a sticky film of bacteria called plaque. Gums in the early stage of disease, or gingivitis, can bleed easily and become red and swollen. Gingivitis is highly preventable and can usually be avoided by daily brushing and flossing. Periodontal disease is an incurable, progressive disease that destroys the bone and supporting structures, potentially causing tooth loss. Periodontal disease is genetic and causes an individual’s body to respond poorly to the bacteria that cause the disease. One indicator of gum disease is consistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
  • During a professional teeth cleaning appointment, the hard, harmful bacteria-filled mineral build-up called tarter, or calculus, is removed from the surfaces of your teeth. As needed, bone health will be assessed with a periodontal charting. Necessary radiographs (X-rays) will be taken and Dr. Doran will fully examine your teeth.
  • Home care review – We’ll suggest changes, if necessary, on how you are caring for your teeth. To read about how to care for your toothbrush, please click here.
  • Sweetens breath by removing odor-causing bacteria in diseased teeth from tooth decay, gingivitis, periodontal disease or bacteria on your tongue. Daily brushing and flossing helps to prevent the build-up of food particles, plaque and bacteria in your mouth. Food particles left in the mouth deteriorate and cause bad breath. While certain foods, such as garlic or anchovies, may create temporary bad breath, consistent bad breath may be a sign of gum disease or another dental problem.