Periodontal /Gum Disease

Periodontal /Gum Disease Specialist
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. Bacteria that build up on your teeth cause inflammation and swelling in your gums, eventually leading to complications that can mean tooth loss. Erik Unger, DDS, a Board Certified Periodontist offers comprehensive care to prevent and manage gum disease at Happy Valley Smiles Dentistry, located in Glendale, Arizona. Call or make an appointment online today.

Periodontal / Gum Disease Q & A

Happy Valley Smiles

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease, also referred to as gum disease, is a progressive inflammation of the gums that can eventually affect your bones and teeth. It’s the biggest reason why adults in America lose teeth. Gum disease has three stages:


Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease, characterized by red and swollen gums. With effective care from an experienced and knowledgeable periodontist like Dr. Unger, your gums can recover without lasting damage

Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is the second stage of gum disease. At this stage, the inflammation of your gums starts to affect your jaw and teeth because your gums start to recede, leaving pockets where bacteria thrive. While periodontal disease is treatable, damage to your teeth at this stage may not be repairable.

Advanced periodontal disease

Advanced periodontal disease, the most severe form of gum disease, occurs when your gums have pulled away from your teeth, and it can signal the demise of a tooth.

What are signs of gum disease?

The most common sign of gum disease is red and swollen gums. Other symptoms include:

  • Chronic bad breath
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Discomfort when chewing
  • Gums that are tender and bleed
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth or teeth that have fallen out

What causes periodontal disease?

Insufficient brushing and flossing lead to periodontal disease. When bacteria, mucus, and food particles are not cleaned away from your teeth, plaque begins to develop. If plaque isn’t prevented with regular at-home care or professional cleanings, it hardens into tartar, which harbors the bacteria and allows it to thrive in warm pockets next to your teeth.

You can’t brush away bacteria from underneath tartar, so the bacteria can multiply, leading to gingivitis. When gingivitis isn’t treated, it evolves into periodontal disease, your gums recede, and your risk of tooth loss increases.

How is gum disease treated?

Dr. Unger customizes gum disease treatments to address your symptoms and stage of the disease. Treatments may include medication to fight off an infection and dental procedures like root planing, which removes the buildup of plaque and tartar while smoothing out any rough spots on your teeth. Dr. Unger uses laser therapy or pinhole surgery to restore damaged gums.

If you’re concerned about gum disease or are due for a cleaning and checkup, call or schedule an appointment online.

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