How Gum Disease is Treated?

Take Care of Your Gums

February 24, 2024 Written By: Joyce Kahng, DDS

Hey there! I’m Joyce the Dentist, and today, we’re diving into a question that might have crossed your mind: “Can gum disease actually lead to life-threatening consequences?”

It’s a topic that deserves our attention as we explore the profound impact of gum disease on your oral and overall health. Through taking a look at the facts about gum disease and its potential impact on your health, we hope to raise awareness and highlight the significance of maintaining good oral hygiene practices.

What is Gum Disease, and What Causes It?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a chronic bacterial infection that affects the gums and tissues supporting our teeth. At its early stage, it is called gingivitis and can progress to a more severe form known as periodontitis if left untreated.

It begins when harmful bacteria in our mouth combine with mucus and food particles to form plaque, a sticky film that forms on our teeth and gums. The build-up of plaque leads to inflammation and irritation of the gum tissues, causing them to pull away from the teeth, creating pockets that trap bacteria deeper into the gums.

As the infection progresses, it attacks the bone supporting the teeth, leading to tooth loss if not treated promptly. While poor oral hygiene can be contribute to gum disease, other factors can increase the risk of developing it. These include smoking, hormonal changes in women, diabetes, certain medications, and genetics.

The Surprising Connection Between Gum Disease and Your Overall Health

Did you know that your mouth’s health is essential for oral well-being and closely connected to your overall health and wellness? It’s no surprise when you consider that our mouths serve as the gateway for everything we consume.

Extensive research conducted by experts in the field has revealed a strong correlation between gum disease, also known as periodontal disease and various systemic health conditions. Studies have shown that people with gum disease may have an increased risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, stroke, respiratory infections, and even pregnancy complications.

Neglecting gum disease can have far-reaching consequences as it can exacerbate these underlying health issues. The inflammation and bacteria present in the mouth can enter the bloodstream, potentially causing or worsening systemic health problems.

Can Gum Disease Be Fatal?

While gum disease itself may not directly cause death, severe and untreated gum disease can lead to serious health complications. These include periodontitis, leading to bone loss, abscesses, infections, and systemic inflammation. In extreme cases, these complications can contribute to life-threatening conditions such as heart disease or stroke.

Also, gum disease can weaken the immune system, making it harder for our bodies to fight infections. This can leave us vulnerable to various illnesses and diseases that can have fatal consequences.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Gum disease may progress quietly, often without pain, which can make it difficult to detect in its early stages. That being said, being aware of the following symptoms can help in identifying gum disease before it advances:

  • Persistent Bad Breath: Caused by the bacteria in the mouth and may be a sign of accumulating plaque or infected gum tissue.
  • Red, Swollen, or Tender Gums: Inflammation is a classic sign of gum disease and should be taken seriously if it does not resolve promptly.
  • Bleeding Gums: This can occur during brushing or flossing and is one of the hallmark symptoms of gum inflammation and disease.
  • Receding Gums: Gums pulling away from the teeth make the teeth look longer and can be a sign of advancing gum disease.
  • Loose Teeth: Caused by weakening the structures that support the teeth, including the bone and connective tissue.
  • Pus under the Gums: A clear indication of an infection that needs to be addressed by a dental professional.
  • Change in Bite: Changing how your teeth fit together when biting down may be a sign of teeth shifting due to advancing gum disease.
  • Sensitivity to Hot or Cold: As gums recede, parts of the teeth that are not protected by enamel can be exposed, leading to heightened sensitivity.

Prevention is Key: How To Protect Yourself and Your Oral Health

To maintain good oral hygiene, the American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day and covering all surfaces using fluoride toothpaste. And don’t forget to floss daily! It helps remove plaque and food particles between your teeth and the gumline. It’s important to avoid skipping regular visits to your dentist for cleanings and check-ups. They play a crucial role in spotting and preventing dental issues early on.


And let’s not overlook the importance of a well-balanced and nutritious diet. It is crucial to limit the consumption of sugary snacks and drinks, as well as to stay away from tobacco. Your smile will genuinely appreciate it!

How Gum Disease is Treated

Early intervention is crucial to prevent further complications when treating gum disease. The treatment options vary based on the severity of the infection, but they all aim to restore your oral health. These options include:

Scaling and planing: Professional dental cleanings, also known as scaling and root planing, play a vital role in maintaining oral health. This procedure effectively removes plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line while smoothing rough spots on the tooth root where bacteria accumulate.

Antibiotic treatment: Antibiotic treatments can be used to treat persistent or severe bacterial infections. Antibiotics can be placed into the gum pockets, and oral antibiotics may be prescribed.

Oral surgery: In cases where more advanced treatment is necessary, surgical interventions may be recommended. These may include flap surgery, where the gums are lifted to remove tartar, and even bone and tissue grafts to regenerate any lost bone or gum tissue caused by periodontitis.

Remember, taking care of your gums is essential for maintaining a healthy smile! Following good oral hygiene habits and seeking professional care can prevent gum disease and promote overall well-being.

Can Gum Disease Really Kill You?

While gum disease itself may not directly cause death, it’s a serious condition that can contribute to life-threatening health problems if left untreated. Regular dental care, good oral hygiene habits, and early intervention are key to preventing these severe consequences.

Smile smarter,
Dr. Joyce

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