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Gum (Periodontal) Diseases

Smiling older manWhat is Periodontal (Gum) Disease?

Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place.  It's typically caused by poor brushing and flossing habits that allow plaque—a sticky film of bacteria—to build up on the teeth and harden.  In advanced stages, periodontal disease can lead to sore, bleeding gums; painful chewing problems; and even tooth loss.

What are the Risk Factors for Gum Disease?

There are a number of risk factors for gum disease, but smoking is the most significant.  In fact, smoking can even jeopardize the success of treatment.  Depending on the extent of the gum disease, treatments can range from professional deep cleaning and medications to surgery.  While periodontal disease can be treated, more importantly, it can be prevented.  Daily brushing and flossing, regular dental check-ups, and quitting tobacco use are the best defense against periodontal disease.

Health Information

For patients

  • Periodontal (Gum) Disease: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments
    This brochure is for people with gum disease.  It discusses the causes, diagnosis, and treatment options.
  • NIHSeniorHealth: Gum (Periodontal) Disease
    A module on periodontal disease for older adults created by the NIDCR, the NIH National Institute on Aging, and the NIH National Library of Medicine.
  • Periodontal Disease​
    Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the causes of periodontal disease, its warning signs, risk factors, and prevention and treatment.
  • MedlinePlus: Gum Disease
    The NIH National Library of Medicine's compilation of links to government, professional and non-profit/voluntary organizations with information on periodontal disease and gingivitis.

For patients in Spanish

For health professionals

  • Periodontal Disease and Diabetes
    A podcast for health professionals from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about periodontal disease, diabetes complications, and the influence of poor oral health on blood glucose control.  

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This page last updated: July 26, 2017