Periodontal Disease

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Periodontics: Keeping Gums Healthy in Chicago

We all know that caring for teeth is important. However, gum health is often overlooked, which may result in complications if left untreated. Your gums play a vital role in your oral health, and they deserve as much care and attention as your teeth.

Periodontics focuses on dental care that goes beyond the teeth to promote overall dental well-being. We at PerioCare Periodontal Medicine and Dental Implant Surgery have helped patients across Chicago achieve exemplary oral health. 

Dr. Russell Cecala uses his decades of professional experience to provide his patients with expert periodontal care, leading them to better long-term dental health and quality of life. Experience the difference at PerioCare by scheduling an appointment today!

Signs and Stages of Gum Disease

The most common cause of periodontal disease is bacterial plaque, which can become situated below the gum line and harden into tartar. The gums respond with inflammation – this is known as gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease.

Gums with gingivitis are red and puffy, sensitive to touch and temperature, and bleed easily. If these symptoms are not addressed, the disease progresses to the next stage, periodontitis. In this form, bacteria create pockets of infection beneath the gum line, causing the soft tissue fibers to pull away from the teeth. The bacteria can attack bone and connective tissue, resulting in serious risk of tooth loss.

Early symptoms of gum disease can be easy to miss or ignore, which means many people do not seek treatment for gum disease until it has advanced. Early detection and treatment can significantly reduce the care and expense needed to restore gums to a healthy state.

Periodontal Treatment Options

Dr. Cecala and his team take great care to examine the gums and the supporting bone to determine the appropriate treatment. PerioCare provides the full spectrum of periodontal treatments, including:

  • Deep Cleanings
  • Scaling and Root Planing
  • Complex Periodontal Treatment (Gum and Bone Grafting)
  • Pocket Reduction Surgery
  • Antibiotic Therapy
  • Aesthetic Contouring

Dr. Cecala takes a patient’s overall well-being into account when considering treatment. If tooth loss has occurred, PerioCare offers a multitude of dental implant options to restore optimal oral health. We also take the time to educate patients on effective practices and what they can do at home to keep their gums in good condition.

Patient-Focused Periodontics in Chicago

At PerioCare, we believe that every aspect of a patient’s visit is important to ensure a positive experience receiving periodontal treatment. Our friendly and professional staff make every effort to help our patients feel comfortable and informed every step of the way. We value our patients like family, and tailor each dental service to the individual.

We look forward to putting our skills to your service. Make an appointment with our office today.

Types of Periodontal Disease

There are many different varieties of periodontal disease, and many ways in which these variations manifest themselves. All require immediate treatment by a periodontist to halt the progression and save the gum and bone tissue.

Here are some of the most common types of periodontal disease along with the treatments typically performed to correct them:


Gingivitis is the mildest and most common form of periodontitis. It is caused by the toxins in plaque and leads to periodontal disease. People at increased risk of developing gingivitis include pregnant women, women taking birth control pills, people with uncontrolled diabetes, steroid users and people who control seizures and blood pressure using medication.

Treatment: Gingivitis is easily reversible using a solid combination of home care and professional cleaning. The dentist may perform root planing and deep scaling procedures to cleanse the pockets of debris. A combination of antibiotics and medicated mouthwashes may be used to kill any remaining bacteria and promote the good healing of the pockets.

Chronic Periodontal Disease

Chronic periodontal disease is the most common form of the disease, and occurs much more frequently in people over 45. Chronic periodontal disease is characterized by inflammation below the gum line and the progressive destruction of the gingival and bone tissue. It may appear that the teeth are gradually growing in length, but in actuality the gums and bone are gradually recessing.

Treatment: Unfortunately unlike gingivitis, chronic periodontal disease cannot be completely cured. However, the dentist can halt the progression of the disease using scaling and root planing procedures in combination with antimicrobial treatments. If necessary, the periodontist can perform surgical treatments such as pocket reduction surgery and also tissue grafts to regenerate the bone and improve the support and health of the mouth.

Advanced Periodontal Disease

Advanced/Aggressive periodontal disease is characterized by the rapid loss of gum attachment, the rapid loss of bone tissue and familial aggregation. The disease itself is essentially the same as chronic periodontitis but the progression is much faster. Smokers, those who have a compromised immune system and those with a family history of this disease are at an increased risk of developing aggressive periodontitis.

Treatment: The treatments for advanced/aggressive periodontal disease are the same as those for chronic periodontal disease, but aggressive periodontal disease sufferers are far more likely to require a surgical intervention. This form of the disease is harder to halt and treat, but the periodontist will perform scaling, root planing, antimicrobial, and in some cases laser procedures in an attempt to save valuable tissue and bone.

Periodontal Disease Relating to Systemic Conditions

Periodontal disease can be a symptom of a disease or condition affecting the rest of the body. Depending on the underlying condition, the disease can behave like aggressive periodontal disease, working quickly to destroy tissue. Heart disease, diabetes and respiratory disease are the most common cofactors, though there are many others. Even in cases where little plaque coats the teeth, many medical conditions intensify and accelerate the progression of periodontal disease.

Treatment: Initially, the medical condition which caused the onset of periodontal disease must be controlled. The periodontist will halt the progression of the disease using the same treatments used for controlling aggressive and chronic periodontal disease.

Necrotizing Periodontal Disease

This form of the disease rapidly worsens and is more prevalent among people who suffer from HIV, immunosuppression, malnutrition, chronic stress or choose to smoke. Tissue death (necrosis) frequently affects the gingival tissues and alveolar bone.

Treatment: Necrotizing periodontal disease is extremely rare. Because it may be associated with HIV or another serious medical condition, it is likely the dentist will consult with a physician before commencing treatment. Scaling, root planing, antibiotics, medicated mouth wash and anti-fungal medicines are generally used to treat this form of the disease.

Common Causes of Gum Disease

There are genetic and environmental factors involved in the onset of gum disease, and in many cases, the risk of developing periodontitis can be significantly lowered by taking preventative measures. 

Here are some of the most common causes of gum disease:

  • Poor dental hygiene - Preventing dental disease starts at home with good oral hygiene and a balanced diet.  Prevention also includes regular dental visits which include exams, cleanings, and x-rays.  A combination of excellent home care and professional dental care will preserve the natural dentition and support of bony structures.  When bacteria and calculus (tartar) are not removed, the gums and bone around the teeth become affected by bacterial toxins and can cause gingivitis or periodontitis, which ultimately lead to tooth loss.
  • Tobacco use – Research has indicated that smoking and tobacco use are some of the most significant factors in the development and progression of gum disease.  In addition to smokers experiencing a slower recovery and healing rate, smokers are far more likely to suffer from calculus (tartar) build-up on teeth, deep pockets in the gingival tissue, and significant bone loss. 
  • Genetic predisposition – Despite practicing rigorous oral hygiene routines, as much as 30% of the population may have a strong genetic predisposition to gum disease.  These individuals are six times more likely to develop periodontal disease than individuals with no genetic predisposition.  Genetic tests can be used to determine susceptibility and early intervention can be performed to keep the oral cavity healthy.
  • Pregnancy and menopause – During pregnancy, regular brushing and flossing is critical. Hormonal changes experienced by the body can cause the gum tissue to become more sensitive, rendering them more susceptible to gum disease.
  • Chronic stress and poor diet – Stress lowers the ability of the immune system to fight off disease which means bacterial infection can beat the body’s defense system.  Poor diet or malnutrition can also lower the body’s ability to fight periodontal infections, as well as negatively affecting the health of the gums.
  • Diabetes and underlying medical issues – Many medical conditions can intensify or accelerate the onset and progression of gum disease including respiratory disease, heart disease, arthritis and osteoporosis.  Diabetes hinders the body’s ability to utilize insulin which makes the bacterial infection in the gums more difficult to control and cure.
  • Grinding teeth – The clenching or grinding of teeth can significantly damage the supporting tissue surrounding the teeth.  Grinding one’s teeth is usually associated with a “bad bite” or the misalignment of the teeth.  When an individual is suffering from gum disease, the additional destruction of gingival tissue due to grinding can accelerate the progression of the disease.
  • Medication – Many drugs including oral contraceptive pills, heart medicines, anti-depressants, and steroids affect the overall condition of teeth and gums, making them more susceptible to gum disease.   

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