Dr. Marvin Gretzinger

family & cosmetic dentistry in Waterloo

Periodontal Disease

Also known as Periodontitis or Gum Disease

What is it?

periodontitisPeriodontitis is inflammation and infection of the ligaments and bones that support the teeth.

To understand periodontitis, it is important to have an idea of the anatomy of the tooth and its supporting structure.

In almost all cases, periodontitis starts with gingivitis.

In susceptible patients, plaque and tartar will cause irritation of the gums and bone loss.

This condition is called periodontitis.

Bone loss, means that the support of the tooth is reduced.

Uncontrolled continuation of bone loss leads to tooth loss.

When periodontitis is present:

  1. Pocket depth increases due to swelling and bone loss.
  2. The gums may bleed more easily when touched.
  3. The supporting bone level is reduced around the tooth.

Uncontrolled periodontal disease is a common cause of tooth loss in the adult population.


Dr. Gretzinger will examine your mouth and teeth and look for soft, swollen, red-purple gums.

The gums are usually painless or mildly tender.

Plaque and tartar may be seen at the base of the teeth.

Dr. Gretzinger may use a probe to closely examine your gums to determine if you have gingivitis or periodontis.

No further testing is usually necessary. However, dental x-rays may be done to see if the disease has spread to the supporting structures of the teeth.

  • Breath odor
  • Gums that appear bright red or red-purple
  • Gums that appear shiny
  • Gums that bleed easily (blood on toothbrush even with gentle brushing of the teeth)
  • Gums that are tender when touched but are painless otherwise
  • Loose teeth
  • Swollen gums

Note: Early symptoms resemble gingivitis.


The goal of treatment is to reduce inflammation, remove “pockets” in the gums, and treat any underlying causes of gum disease.

Rough surfaces of teeth or dental appliances should be repaired.

It is important to have the teeth cleaned thoroughly. This may involve use of various tools to loosen and remove plaque and tartar from the teeth. Proper flossing and brushing is always needed, even after professional tooth cleaning, to reduce your risk of gum disease. Dr. Gretzinger  or your hygienist will show you how to brush and floss properly. Patients with periodontitis should have professional tooth cleaning more than twice a year.


Good oral hygiene is the best means of prevention. This includes thorough tooth brushing and flossing, and regular professional dental cleaning. The prevention and treatment of gingivitis reduces the risk of development of periodontitis.