South Shore Long Island
Periodontics & Implantology P.C.
Dr. Leslie G. Batnick, D.D.S.
Dr. Lois B. Levine, D.D.S.
Dr. Joo H. Kim, D.D.S.
Diplomates, American Board of Periodontology

Gingivitis & Periodontitis

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, just about half of all U.S. adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is also the leading cause of tooth loss in American adults.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. It affects the gum tissue, bone structure, and ligaments that help to hold your teeth in place. One of the primary causes of periodontal disease is dental plaque that accumulates beneath the gumline. This plaque is a sticky film made up of food debris, saliva, and bacteria. If it is not removed promptly, the toxins produced by the bacteria irritate and inflame the gums.


Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease. During this stage, your gums are likely to become an irritated red color, may swell, and are prone to bleeding during brushing and flossing. Without improved hygiene or treatment, the irritation will cause the gums to pull back from teeth, creating pockets that trap more plaque and debris.


As the disease progresses, you are likely to experience deterioration of the supportive bone and gum tissue that holds your teeth into place. At this point, the condition is known as periodontitis. If left untreated, tooth loss will likely be the result.

Identifying Periodontal Disease

While periodontal disease is associated with multiple symptoms such as bleeding or bad breath, it’s also possible to develop gum disease and have no noticeable symptoms. This is one of the reasons why routine cleanings and check-ups are so important. A skilled hygienist is often the first line of defense between you and gum disease. They are trained to recognize the signs of gum disease and will notify your dentist right away.

Routine x-rays are also helpful when it comes to catching “silent” periodontal disease. The x-rays allow your dentist to spot signs of deterioration in the supportive structures, even if no symptoms are apparent on a visual examination.

The Oral-Systemic Link

In recent years, researchers have discovered that there is an apparent link between oral health and systemic health. One of the most serious findings is that there is a connection between periodontal disease and other chronic systemic diseases, including heart disease, respiratory disease, and diabetes.

Preventing Periodontal Disease

Ideally, it’s preferable to prevent periodontal disease than to treat it. The first step in preventing gum disease is to brush at least twice daily using good technique and to floss every day. Your hygienist will take the time to show you the best technique so that you can clear away plaque and debris from below the gumline and keep your gums healthy.

Even with excellent home care, however, it is possible to develop gum disease. Gum disease has a genetic component – if your parents had gum disease, it’s likely that you will, too. Once the disease starts, professional intervention is required to stop it from progressing and causing serious damage.