What is Periodontal Gum Disease

What is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?

The term “periodontal”means “around the tooth.”  Periodontal disease (also known as periodontitis and gum disease) is a common inflammatory condition which affects the supporting and surrounding soft tissues of the tooth; also the jawbone itself when in its most advanced stages.

Periodontal disease is most often preceded by gingivitis which is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue.  A bacterial infection affects the gums when the toxins contained in plaque begin to irritate and inflame the gum tissues.  Once this bacterial infection colonizes in the gum pockets between the teeth, it becomes much more difficult to remove and treat.  Periodontal disease is a progressive condition that eventually leads to the destruction of the connective tissue and jawbone.  If left untreated, it can lead to shifting teeth, loose teeth and eventually tooth loss.

Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults in the developed world and should always be promptly treated.

Types of Periodontal Disease

When left untreated, gingivitis (mild gum inflammation) can spread to below the gum line.  When the gums become irritated by the toxins contained in plaque, a chronic inflammatory response causes the body to break down and destroy its own bone and soft tissue.  There may be little or no symptoms as periodontal disease causes the teeth to separate from the infected gum tissue.  Deepening pockets between the gums and teeth are generally indicative that soft tissue and bone is being destroyed by periodontal disease.

Here are some of the most common types of periodontal disease:

  • Chronic periodontitis – Inflammation within supporting tissues cause deep pockets and gum recession.  It may appear the teeth are lengthening, but in actuality, the gums (gingiva) are receding.  This is the most common form of periodontal disease and is characterized by progressive loss of attachment, interspersed with periods of rapid progression.

  • Aggressive periodontitis – This form of gum disease occurs in an otherwise clinically healthy individual.  It is characterized by rapid loss of gum attachment, chronic bone destruction and familial aggregation.

  • Necrotizing periodontitis – This form of periodontal disease most often occurs in individuals suffering from systemic conditions such as HIV, immunosuppression and malnutrition.  Necrosis (tissue death) occurs in the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone and gingival tissues.

  • Periodontitis caused by systemic disease – This form of gum disease often begins at an early age.  Medical condition such as respiratory disease, diabetes and heart disease are common cofactors.

Treatment for Periodontal Disease

There are many surgical and nonsurgical treatments the periodontist may choose to perform, depending upon the exact condition of the teeth, gums and jawbone.  A complete periodontal exam of the mouth will be done before any treatment is performed or recommended.

Here are some of the more common treatments for periodontal disease:

  • Scaling and root planing – In order to preserve the health of the gum tissue, the bacteria and calculus (tartar) which initially caused the infection, must be removed.  The gum pockets will be cleaned and treated with antibiotics as necessary to help alleviate the infection.  A prescription mouthwash may be incorporated into daily cleaning routines.

  • Tissue regeneration – When the bone and gum tissues have been destroyed, regrowth can be actively encouraged using grafting procedures.  A membrane may be inserted into the affected areas to assist in the regeneration process.

  • Pocket elimination surgery – Pocket elimination surgery (also known as flap surgery) is a surgical treatment which can be performed to reduce the pocket size between the teeth and gums.  Surgery on the jawbone is another option which serves to eliminate indentations in the bone which foster the colonization of bacteria.

  • Dental implants – When teeth have been lost due to periodontal disease, the aesthetics and functionality of the mouth can be restored by implanting prosthetic teeth into the jawbone.  Tissue regeneration procedures may be required prior to the placement of a dental implant in order to strengthen the bone.

Ask your dentist if you have questions or concerns about periodontal disease, periodontal treatment, or dental implants.

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Great experience Dr. Saint Germain has great knowledge from implants,root canals, fillings to extractions. I would recommend him for all your dental work. Prices are comparable to other dentists.
—Moe O.
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I was traveling in the area from out of state and developed a toothache in route. A local colleague referred me to Dr St Germain for treatment. Dr St Germain determined I needed a root canal and although his appointment schedule was fully booked kindly moved other patients around to treat me. He and his staff were the most professional I have experienced anywhere including my dentist at home. I would highly recommend his office for their services and wish I live locally so I could use this practice regularly. Thanks again!!
—Michael S.
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These guys were great and prompt and very efficient, place was great. Friendly and knowledgeable staff, clean office and great service. Prices were comparable to other spots, so it wasn't too expensive. Awesome! I recommend this dentist office here in Nashua, NH.
—Mark G.
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I loved everything about my visit... and let's be honest, that's huge when talking about the dentist! The office was warm and inviting, the staff was super kind, even taking the time to introduce themselves and shake my hand. Such a change from my previous dentist. Highly recommend!
—Jeffa L.
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Dr. St. Germain is very nice and explains things to his patients so they understand what is going on. He connects with them on a personal level which eases the "fear/anxiety" that one can have going to the dentist. MaryEllen is also great to talk to; whether you are on the phone or in the office, she will do anything she can to help you! I would defintiley reccomend Dr. St. Germain as your next dentist!!!
—Niki P.
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Dr. St. Germain & his staff are totally wonderful. Up on the latest technology but easy going & very accommodating. They know what they're doing & do it well.
—Michele M.
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I have known Dr. St. Germain since 2007. I would recommend Dr. St. Germain and his practice to everyone I know. He is a caring, competent, professional. He offers a wide range of dental services all in one place which my family and I really love. He is tops with my kids too! Your children don't need to be afraid of the dentist! I can attest to this! My sons' love the rides he gave them in his dental chair when they were younger and he always explains everything to them. They always leave his office with a smile, holding their new toothbrush or toy like a badge of honor. : ) Dr St. Germain always keeps up to date on all the latest dental techniques and studies which I love. He treats dental health with a "whole body" approach . He listens and really cares If you have dental anxiety now you won't after visiting Dr. St. Germain! His service and staff are top notch, and friendly too. Dr. St. Germain has helped me immensely, I had a few old filling which always gave me trouble, Dr St. Germain fixed them for me and I have never felt pain in those teeth ever again! My family and I Thank You Dr. St.
—Melanie P.
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I greatly appreciate the care I receive from Dr. St. Germaine and his staff. I very much appreciate the attention staff pays to ensuring how much my insurance will cover, and work to make it work for me. I am a fairly new recipient of their care, but like how I am treated and care for.
—Nancy K.
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Both my mother and I have attended Merrimack Valley Dental for the past 8 years and always have a quick and pain free experience. All of the hygienists remember me and act like one big family, while Doctor St. Germain makes every cleaning and procedure feel like a simple procedure while telling a story to distract you. They make a dentists appointment something you don't dread ahead of time!
—Juliano S.
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I have enjoyed being a patient at Merrimack Valley Dental Care. The staff are consistently friendly and helpful. They truly care about my health and that of my family. My two young children are patients as well. They have their teeth cleaned and have even had teeth "pulled"/removed; all of which have been positive experiences for them and myself. Most recently, I took my children for their six month cleaning. I had messed up the times of their appointments. The staff at Merrimack Valley Dental Care accommodated us by staying later than they were scheduled to! I was extremely grateful for their flexibility.
—Amy Y.
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The staff here is amazing! My family has always been treated with respect, care and professionalism. I have always had positive experiences there despite the fearful nature of dentistry in general. Would recommend them and do recommend them whenever I get a chance
—Stephen O.
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I saw some negative reviews on this place and was shocked. I have been a customer who came from an AWFUL dentist that really really made it hard for me to go to the dentist. I needed a lot of work. We developed a plan and are executing! Fair prices, great people- I would and have recommended St. Germain and practice to friends and family. Went today for a cleaning and the experience hasn't changed from the first day I went.
—Jesse G.
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I'm deeply afraid by dentists! I recently had a tooth extracted by DDS Albert St. Germain. He actually took the time to bring me in a calm state of mind. His gentail Staff of dental hygienist and office administration - I found my new dentistry!
Thank You Dr. St. Germain!
—John D.
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I hadn't been to the dentist in many, many years, and I was very nervous about the kind of work I might need when I first came to Dr. St. Germain and his staff. Right away, they were comforting and courteous. I had a cleaning within two weeks of my first visit, and a cavity filling several weeks later. Both procedures were done with skill and patience. There were no insurance hassles at all; the cleaning was 100% covered and the cavity filling had a reasonable co-pay. I would absolutely recommend "Dr. Saint" and his staff to anyone. They're extremely friendly and professional. I'll never enjoy a visit to the dentist, but at least I know I'm getting the best experience possible when I go to Merrimack Valley Dental Care.
—Roger T.
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