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Periodontal Disease

Gentle Care. 
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Outstanding Results.

What is Periodontal (gum) Disease?

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the gums surrounding your teeth. Gum disease is the leading reason for tooth loss, affecting approximately 80% of Americans by age 45. Because it is virtually painless, 4 out of 5 patients with the disease are unaware they have it! Periodontal disease involves serious bacterial infections that release toxins in your body. These toxins then destroy the gums and bone that hold your teeth in your mouth (like termites). Gum disease is a chronic condition like heart disease or diabetes and there is no cure for it. However, just like those conditions, it is treatable and your teeth can be maintained for a very long time. Early gum disease may be treated with your general dentist and hygienist. If you have been diagnosed with bone loss or a more severe infection, you may be referred to a gum disease specialist called a periodontist. Periodontists work hand-in- hand with your general dentist to achieve the highest level of oral health and keep your teeth for the rest of your life.  

Certain factors can increase a patient's risk of developing
periodontal disease, including:

  • Poor oral hygiene

  • Smoking or using chewing tobacco

  • Diabetes

  • Certain types of medication such as steroids, anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives

  • Bridges that no longer fit properly

  • Crooked teeth

  • Old fillings

  • Pregnancy

What are the signs of gum disease?

While it is possible to have periodontal disease and not know it, some symptoms can include:

  • Gums that bleed easily

  • Red, swollen, tender gums

  • Gums that have pulled away from the teeth

  • Persistent bad breath or bad taste

  • Pus between your teeth and gums

  • Permanent teeth that are loose or separating

  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures

How does gum disease relate to overall health?

Gum disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that puts constant stress on your immune system. The surface of the infected gums is about the size of your hand. With full-mouth gum disease, you may have a hand-sized infection in your body at all times! This makes your body less able to constantly repair itself and fight off other infections. Gum disease is also linked to other systemic diseases. Controlling your gum disease can reduce your health risks of:

  • Diabetes

  • Heart Disease and Stroke

  • Osteoporosis

  • Respiratory Diseases and Effects from COVID-19

  • Pre-term Low Birth Weight and other Pregnancy Complications

  • Certain Types of Cancer

How can I avoid gum disease?

The good news about gum disease is that it is almost entirely preventable with a solid oral health routine and regular dental hygiene visits where the plaque and toxins can be removed.


Brushing should be done at least twice a day (usually in the morning and again at night) with a soft-bristled toothbrush.  Additional brushing after sugary or sticky snacks or drinks can provide more protection against gum disease.

Cleaning between the teeth is possibly the most important step in your daily oral health routine and can be a powerful defense against gum disease.  This can be accomplished with floss or tiny brushes that fit between the teeth. You should clean between the teeth at least once a day to plaque buildup where your brush cannot easily reach. If flossing is skipped or done improperly, food and bacteria it will continue to build up and cause infections. Dr. Setter’s team is always happy to demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques.

Dental checkups and cleanings should be scheduled two to four times per year. If gum disease is caught early on, it can often be reversed, and even advanced periodontitis can be halted and prevented from causing additional damage if properly treated. A healthy diet and regular exercise can also boost your oral and total body health.

What are the treatments for gum disease?

Treatment for gum disease is different for each patient and our team will perform a full-mouth evaluation, formulate a diagnosis, and create a comprehensive plan that is unique to your situation

  • Oral hygiene instruction

  • Smoking cessation

  • Bacteria testing

  • Antibacterial/antibiotic treatment

  • Bacteria removal therapy which may be surgical or non-surgical

    • Endoscope-assisted bacteria removal

    • Laser-assisted gum disease protocols

    • Regular bacteria control visits with our office and/or your
      general dentist


More information can be found on our treatment pages.

To make an appointment, please call our office at 503-222-9961 or e-mail us at  We look forward to the opportunity to meet you!

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