8950 Villa La Jolla Dr, Suite C210 (858) 935-8589 La Jolla Dental

Gum and Bone Disease
La Jolla

A dental professional preparing a bone graft for a patient whose periodontitis has advanced by La Jolla Dentist at La Jolla Dental in La Jolla, CA
Periodontics is a dentistry specialty that focuses on the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of diseases of the tissues supporting and surrounding the teeth. Specifically, periodontists work with people who have been diagnosed with periodontal disease, which is an extremely common disease of the gums that affects about 80% of Americans in some manner. Whether your periodontal disease is stopped, gets worse, or slows its progression will depend on how well you care for your gums and teeth daily.

The Importance of Professional Cleanings

Good oral hygiene is the foundation for dental health, and it requires professional guidance and care provided by our office. A professional cleaning will remove plaque, tartar, and stains from the teeth in order to maintain healthy teeth and gums. We also provide education on how to properly care for your gums and teeth so that you can keep your mouth healthy and free of periodontal disease.

A professional cleaning is known as a prophylaxis, and this can only be done by a hygienist or a dentist. Not only does this procedure prevent gum disease, but it will also improve the appearance of your teeth by allowing them to appear bright and clean. A prophylaxis will take two steps to complete:
•  Cleaning of the teeth- Your hygienist will use scalers in order to remove calculus from the teeth below and above the gum disease.
•  Polishing- A special paste is put onto the teeth with a motorized instrument in order to remove surface stains and plaque. When the surfaces of the teeth are polished, it can make it harder for both plaque and debris to build up.

In addition to a professional cleaning, a sound oral health routine is also important in plaque and periodontal disease control. Proper brushing at home can remove plaque from the surface of the teeth, and flossing will extract debris and plaque that are hidden in between the teeth, especially when it is found in hard-to-reach areas under the gum line.

Understanding Plaque and Tartar

There are two main substances that will accumulate on your teeth: plaque and tartar. Plaque is the least serious of the two options, and it is a soft, colorless, and sticky film that is constantly forming on the teeth. It is made out of bacteria and combines with sugars and carbohydrates to form acids. These acids attack the enamel of the teeth, causing cavities, but it can also create a gum inflammation problem known as gingivitis.

When the plaque on the teeth combine with salivary minerals, it can harden into an unsightly and rough deposit called tartar, which may also be referred to as calculus. This is mostly a mineral, and it provides a rough surface to which additional plaque can attach, making it harder to remove. Once tartar is formed, you won’t be able to remove it on your own and will need a dental cleaning.

Periodontal Diseases

Our mouths are dirty environments that are full of bacteria, and they are constantly forming plaque on the teeth. Flossing and brushing can help to rid your teeth of this substance before it is able to harden to form tartar and to cause periodontal disease, including gingivitis and periodontitis.


The longer that plaque and tartar are allowed to stay on the teeth, the more harmful that these substances will become. The first type of periodontal disease that might occur is known as gingivitis. With this condition, the gums will become swollen and red, and they will bleed easily. This mild form of gum disease can typically be reversed with regular dental visits and good oral hygiene, and it does not include bone or tissue loss.


If gingivitis isn’t treated, it can advance to become periodontitis. With this condition, the gums will start to pull away from the teeth, and pockets can become infected. Unfortunately, the infection may begin to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth into place, and this can lead to tooth loss.

Frequently Asked Questions about Periodontal Disease

If you are concerned about periodontal—or gum—disease, answers to some of the following frequently asked questions may put you at ease.

What Are the Signs of Periodontal Disease?

Advanced stages of periodontal disease often come with noticeable symptoms, including:
•  Swollen, red gums
•  Bleeding, painful gums
•  Bad breath that you cannot get rid of
•  Sensitive teeth
•  Loose or shifting teeth
•  Painful chewing

What Will Happen During Your Dental Visit?

If you notice any of the previously noted symptoms, you should be sure to schedule an appointment with us. You will discuss your medical history and periodontal risk factors, and we will provide a thorough oral exam. A tiny probe will be used to check gum pockets and to measure their depth, as healthy pockets will be 1–3 mm in size. X-rays may be needed to look for bone loss, and in severe cases, you might be referred to a periodontist for treatment.

Can Periodontal Disease Be Prevented?

Yes! You can be proactive in preventing periodontal disease by following a few simple steps:
•  Floss your teeth every day
•  Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice per day
•  Visit your us regularly for a professional cleaning and checkup
•  Avoid the use of tobacco products
•  Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet

Who Gets Periodontal Disease?

The signs of gum disease usually don’t begin until a person is in their 30s or 40s, but they may start sooner. Men tend to be more likely to develop periodontal disease than women, and while teens rarely develop periodontitis, they may develop gingivitis, the milder variety of the disease. Gum disease most commonly develops when plaque has been allowed to build up under and along the gumline.

Can Periodontal Disease Be Treated?

The main goal of periodontal disease treatment is to stop the spread of infection. There are a variety of treatment options available, but the one that is right for you will depend on the extent of the problem. Additionally, any treatment implemented by your doctor will require good home care and behavior modification, such as quitting smoking.

What Are the Risk Factors for Periodontal Disease?

Gum disease is entirely preventable with proper brushing and flossing, but there are certain factors that can make you at a greater risk for developing this condition than others:
•  Smoking- You have probably been given a ton of reasons to stop smoking over the years, but here is another one. Smoking is one of the biggest risk factors associated with periodontitis, and smoking can also hinder the success of dental treatments.
•  Stress- Research has shown that stress can impede our body’s ability to fight off infection, including gum disease.
•  Medications- Certain drugs, including heart medications and antidepressants, can affect your oral health by reducing salivary flow.
•  Hormonal changes- Women going through hormonal changes, such as pregnancy and menopause, will be more likely to develop gingivitis due to increased gum sensitivity.
•  Diabetes- Chronic conditions like diabetes can increase your risk of developing infections, including gum disease.
•  Illness- Other diseases like HIV/AIDS and cancer—and their treatments—can impact the health of your gums.
•  Genetics- If your parents had gum disease, you will be more likely to develop the condition yourself.

Do you have questions about bone and gum disease? Give us a call at (858) 935-8589. We are happy to help you learn more about your smile!
Or book an appointment with us online today!

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James Strother DDS - La Jolla Dental, 8950 Villa La Jolla Dr, Suite C210, La Jolla, CA 92037 + (858) 935-8589 + lajolladental.org + 3/30/2024 + Page Keywords: dentist La Jolla CA +