Periodontal Disease: What Is it and How Is It Treated?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), more than 47 percent of Americans over age 30 have some form of periodontal disease. 

And the numbers get more worrisome when you consider the nation’s large aging population. Over 70 percent of people 65 and older have this gum disease, which primarily results from poor dental hygiene.

How does periodontal disease occur? When bacteria remains in the mouth, it can infect the tissue surrounding and supporting the teeth, leading to inflammation and infection. In the early stage of periodontal disease – gingivitis – the gums become red, swollen and prone to bleeding.

Left untreated, the bacteria form plaque, a film on the tooth that can harden into tartar. A buildup of tartar then can spread past the tooth into the gum line. At this point, only a dental professional can stop the progression of the disease.

Dr. Teja Obulareddy, a General Dentist and Periodontist with national and International experience, is an authority in the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease. She completed her Advanced Education in General Dentistry at Temple University and obtained her Master’s in Periodontology and Implant Dentistry from India.

“Periodontal disease can be serious, but it is preventable with early treatment,” according to Dr. Obulareddy. “A dental professional can remove tartar and stop the progress of the disease.” She lists the following warning signs that indicate it is time to see your dentist for treatment:

  • A bad taste that won’t go away
  • Bad breath
  • Red, tender or bleeding gums
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • Gums pulling away from the teeth
  • A change in your bite
  • A change in the fit of dentures

Unfortunately, many people ignore these symptoms and do not visit their dentist until the disease has progressed. Dr. Obulareddy also mentions that certain risk factors make some people more susceptible to periodontal disease than others. These risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Underlying immuno-deficiencies
  • Taking medications that cause dry mouth
  • Female hormonal changes
  • Bridges that do not fit properly

Stress and hereditary factors also come into play, Dr. Obulareddy notes. She adds that the data reveals that women (56 percent) are more likely to have the disease than men, and people living below the poverty line (65 percent) have a higher chance of getting the disease.

If periodontal disease, also called periodontitis, is not advanced, the following non-invasive treatments may stop it in its tracks.

  • Topical or oral antibiotics to help control a bacterial infection
  • Scaling to remove tartar and bacteria from the tooth surfaces and below the gum line
  • Root planing to smooth the root surface and help prevent subsequent buildup of tartar and bacteria.

However, advanced periodontitis may require more invasive treatments, according to Dr. Obulareddy. One procedure for advanced periodontal disease is Root Biomodification Therapy. Dr. Obulareddy co-wrote a paper on this topic that was published in the Journal of Annals and Essence of Dentistry.  

Dr. Obulareddy explains that Root Modification Therapy uses different agents to detoxify and demineralize the root surface. The procedure involves removing what is known as the smear layer on the root surface, uncovering and widening the dentin tubules, and unmasking the dentin collagen matrix.

“The goal of periodontal treatment is to preserve the teeth in functional and comfortable good health while maintaining the aesthetic expectations of the patient,” says Dr. Obulareddy.

“To achieve this goal, Root Modification and other periodontal therapies are directed at removing bacterial deposits, regenerating any tissue that has been lost, and stopping the progression of the disease.” 

Other surgical treatments for advanced periodontal disease may include: 

Flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery). The periodontist makes cuts in the gums to expose the tooth roots for more effective scaling and root planing. 

Soft tissue graft. The periodontist removes a small amount of tissue from the roof of the mouth and attaches it to the affected site. This procedure covers exposed roots and helps reduce further gum loss.

Bone grafting. If the disease has destroyed the bone around the tooth root, a bone graft helps prevent tooth loss and serves as a platform for natural bone regrowth.

Guided tissue regeneration. This procedure helps stimulate the regrowth of bone destroyed by bacteria. For example, the periodontist might place a special fabric between the existing bone and the tooth to prevent unwanted tissue from growing into the healing area and obstructing bone growth.

Tissue-stimulating proteins. With this approach, the periodontist applies a special gel to the diseased tooth root. The gel, which contains the proteins found in developing tooth enamel, stimulates bone and tissue growth.

The best way to prevent periodontal disease in the first place is by practicing consistent oral hygiene, Dr. Obulareddy stresses. “It’s time to make oral hygiene a part of your routine. Brush your teeth after meals, floss at least once a day, and visit your dental health professional at least once a year,” she says.

If you have some of the risk factors for periodontal disease, Dr. Obulareddy recommends regular visits to a periodontist for a comprehensive periodontal evaluation (CPE). A CPE examines your teeth, gums, bite, bone structure, and plaque levels. 

“Identifying the symptoms of gum disease early is the main way to protect your teeth and gums and, by doing so, help maintain your overall health,” according to Dr. Obulareddy. Written by Tricia Drevets

Abdus Subhan

Abdus Subhan also writes for Nybreaking,, Techbullion, Filmdaily, waterwaysmagazine, Designerwomen, Businesstomark, ventsmagazine, Stylevanity, and other good quality sites. Contact: