Gum Disease

Periodontist in St. Louis, Missouri

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a chronic infection that affects the gums and bone supporting your teeth. The term “periodontal” literally means “around the tooth.” These infections are caused by bacteria in your mouth that destroy the foundation of the gum and bone around your teeth. Gum disease is one of the most common infections in the United States, affecting over 75% of American adults over the age of 50 and more than a third of the total population.

Understanding Gum Disease

Despite the prevalence of gum disease, many people are unaware that they are affected. In a recent survey, 8 out of 10 Americans believed they didn’t have periodontal disease, even though 7 out of 10 had one or more symptoms. This lack of awareness can be attributed to the often painless and asymptomatic nature of the disease in its early stages. However, if left untreated, gum disease can lead to severe consequences, including tooth loss.

What is Gum Disease?

Periodontal means “around the tooth.” Periodontal diseases are gum and bone infections caused by the bacteria in your mouth that destroy the foundation of the gum and bone around your teeth. They are some of the most common infections in the United States. In fact, more than 75% of American adults over the age of 50 have some form of periodontal disease, and over a third of the total population has moderate periodontal disease.

Despite the number of people infected with gum disease, many don’t believe it affects them. In a recent survey, 8 out of 10 Americans believed they didn’t have periodontal disease, even though 7 out of 10 had one or more symptoms.

Periodontal disease can be painless or asymptomatic until it is almost too late to save teeth. The most common symptoms are tooth drifting, mobility and gum swelling. If left untreated, gum disease can cause bad breath, swollen bleeding gums and eventually tooth loss. In fact, periodontal disease is the major reason for adult tooth loss.

Most importantly, periodontal disease is preventable.

Gum Disease

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Symptoms of Gum Disease

Gum disease can be categorized into two main stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.


Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, characterized by inflammation of the gums. Common symptoms include:

  • Bleeding Gums: Especially noticeable when brushing or flossing.
  • Persistent Bad Breath: A constant unpleasant odor or taste in the mouth.
  • Red, Swollen Gums: Gums that appear puffy and discolored.


If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis, a more severe form of gum disease. Symptoms of periodontitis include:

  • Receding Gums: Gums that pull away from the teeth, making them appear longer.
  • Inflamed Gum Pockets: Visible pockets of inflammation along the gum line.
  • Gum Pain: Discomfort or sensitivity in the gums.
  • Sensitivity to Temperature: Increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.
  • Tooth Mobility: Teeth that are loose or shifting in position.

Causes and Risk Factors

Gum disease is primarily caused by plaque buildup, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth. Risk factors that can increase the likelihood of developing gum disease include:

  • Poor Oral Hygiene: Inconsistent brushing and flossing habits.
  • Smoking or Chewing Tobacco: Tobacco use significantly increases the risk.
  • Genetics: A family history of gum disease.
  • Medical Conditions: Conditions such as diabetes and certain medications can affect gum health.
  • Poor Nutrition: A diet lacking essential nutrients, particularly vitamin C.

Gum Disease Treatment Options

Gum disease can be managed and treated effectively, especially when caught early. Treatment options include:

Non-Surgical Treatments

  • Professional Cleaning: Thorough removal of plaque and tartar.
  • Scaling and Root Planing: Deep cleaning to remove plaque and tartar from below the gum line.
  • Antibiotics: Medications to control bacterial infection.

Surgical Treatments

  • LANAP® Laser Treatment: A minimally invasive, FDA-approved laser procedure that targets and removes diseased tissue without the need for scalpel or sutures.
  • Pocket Reduction Surgery: Procedures to reduce the depth of gum pockets.
  • Gum Grafts: Techniques to restore and reinforce receding gums.
  • Bone Grafts: Procedures to rebuild bone lost to periodontal disease.

Prevention Strategies

Preventing gum disease is possible with proper oral hygiene and regular dental care. Here are some essential tips:

  • Brush Regularly: Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss Daily: Flossing removes plaque from between teeth and under the gum line.
  • Use Mouth Rinse: Antimicrobial mouth rinses can help reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking increases the risk of gum disease and impairs healing.

Why Choose Schlueter Periodontics & Implants?

At Schlueter Periodontics & Implants in St. Louis, MO, Dr. Scott Schlueter and Dr. Trinity Boszko specialize in the sophisticated procedures required for successful and gentle gum disease treatment. Our practice is dedicated to honesty, integrity, and the highest standards of patient care, which has made us a trusted name in periodontal treatment since 1977.

We offer a range of advanced treatments, including the only FDA-approved LANAP® laser procedure, which provides effective, minimally invasive care with no post-treatment downtime. Our team is committed to providing a thorough analysis and conservative treatment approach tailored to your unique condition.

Contact Us

If you suspect you have gum disease or are experiencing symptoms, don’t wait. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward better oral health. Our expert staff at Schlueter Periodontics & Implants is here to provide the solutions you need for a healthier smile.

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