Gum Disease - EAST RIDGE, TN

The Correlation between Gum Disease and Your Health

How Gum Disease Can Affect More Than Just Your Smile

While gum disease may start quietly, years of research have revealed the correlation between gum disease and your overall health. At first, you may notice your gums feel tender or bleed when you brush and floss. If left unchecked, this infection can cause more than just painful gums. Gum disease can lead to tooth loss, bone loss and even cause systemic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes complications and stroke, as well as premature labor and low birthweight (PLBW) babies.

Our skilled, caring dental team at Harry M Suekert DDS PLLC, offers the highly effective, minimally invasive treatments you need to keep infection under control and maintain proper oral health for years to come. We partner with multiple insurance companies to ensure your entire treatment process is easy and painless. Contact us at the first appearance of symptoms. Don’t wait for further complications to affect your life!

The Stages of Gum Disease

It has been estimated that 75% of Americans have some form of gum disease, which can cause otherwise avoidable dental problems, and can also be linked to serious health complications. There are millions of germs that live in your mouth. If you suffer from gum disease, you have open wounds in your gums that allow the bacteria to enter directly into your bloodstream and circulate throughout your body. These bacteria can relocate to other parts of your body, and have the potential to cause disease in your organs and systems.

The Stages of Gum Disease

This earliest stage of gum disease is caused by plaque buildup around the gumline, which causes inflammation of the gums. If you neglect to brush or floss your teeth daily, this plaque buildup will trap bacteria, which can lead to gum disease. Gingivitis causes inflammation of the gums. Infected gums, which should otherwise be pink, will appear red and swollen, and you could experience bleeding when you brush or floss. However, gingivitis can still be reversed at this point. The bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place have not yet been affected.

If gingivitis is left untreated, the condition will become periodontitis. At this stage, the supporting bones and fibers that hold your teeth in place have been irreversibly damaged. Your gums begin to form “pockets,” which are deep hollow areas around the teeth that trap food, plaque and bacteria. Your gums will recede and form gaps between your teeth. Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent further damage and tooth loss.

In this final stage of gum disease, periodontitis has been left untreated and has become advanced periodontitis. Bacteria that were allowed to grow, spread and cause destruction have now destroyed the connective tissues and bones that support the teeth. The pockets that formed in the previous stage have become much deeper. Your teeth can shift or loosen. Loose teeth that move around in the mouth may affect your bite. At this stage, aggressive treatment is needed to save the teeth.

Key Gum Disease Treatments


The Laser-Assisted New Attachment Procedure allows our dentist in East Ridge, TN to treat patients’ gum disease with less pain, discomfort, recession and sensitivity, while providing predictable long-term results.

Scaling and Root Planing

The non-surgical treatment scaling and root planing is often the first procedure in the fight against gum disease. Scaling removes the bacterial plaque from above and below the gumline, and root planing smooths the tooth surfaces to encourage healthy tissue reattachment and protection against future infection.

Osseous Surgery

Osseous surgery is the most aggressive treatment for advanced gum disease in East Ridge, TN. It involves removing the diseased gum tissue and repairing the damaged bone to restore support to the teeth. This surgery also removes the bacteria and calculus trapped in the deep pockets between the teeth.

Periodontal Maintenance

Once gum disease has been comprehensively treated, periodontal maintenance is recommended to ensure it does not return. This procedure is completed every 3-4 months and involves a deep cleaning of the teeth at and below the gumline to remove bacteria and plaque accumulation. These deep cleanings will replace your regularly scheduled hygiene appointments.

The Systemic Health Conditions Affected

Taking good care of your mouth does more than just ensure you have a bright, beautiful smile. Having a healthy mouth and a healthy body go hand-in-hand. Research over the years has shown that gum disease affects not only your esthetics, but also your systemic health!

Gum disease has been associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Poor dental health from a lack of brushing and flossing increases the risk of possible bacterial infection in the bloodstream, which could eventually lead to the narrowing of important arteries, and could even affect the heart valves.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. More than 30,000 Americans are expected to die from the disease this year. Studies have shown that periodontal disease could lead to increased pancreatic carcinogenesis, because individuals with periodontal disease have higher levels of oral bacteria and higher levels of strong carcinogens called nitrosamines in their oral cavities. Prior studies have shown that nitrosamines and gastric acidity may play a role in pancreatic cancer.

Though research and studies have not fully proven a connection between dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, it has seen a connection between the brain’s cognitive function and chronic periodontitis in patients. It is suggested that bacteria from the infected gums entering the bloodstream, then crossing the blood-brain barrier into the brain, could trigger brain tissue inflammation and possibly spur production of the toxic proteins that are markers of Alzheimer’s disease.

Something that only few people may be aware of is the effect that gum disease could have on pregnant women. There are studies that show pregnant women may be at a higher risk of giving birth to preterm and low birthweight babies when they have gum disease. Due to the fact that gum disease is an inflammatory disease, the bacteria it can produce could destroy tooth-supporting connective tissue and bone, which is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth, as well as low birthweight and preeclampsia.

While osteoporosis can occur in any bone in the body, the jawbone is especially susceptible to the disease. Low bone density in the jaw can result in loose teeth and tooth loss. People who have osteoporosis may have trouble with loose or ill-fitting dentures over time, as the bone is absorbed but not replaced. Those with periodontal disease and osteoporosis are prone to tooth loss. It has been suggested that the loss of bone density in the jaw may leave teeth more vulnerable to the bacteria that cause gum disease.

Recent studies have shown that people with moderate to advanced periodontal disease are at a greater risk of having a stroke. One study published by the American Stroke Association in 2004 showed that patients with severe periodontitis had a 4.3 times higher risk of stroke than those with mild or no periodontal disease.

Uncontrolled diabetes impairs white blood cells, which are the body’s main defense against bacterial infection. Left uncontrolled, diabetes greatly increases the risk of moderate to severe periodontal disease. Those who have diabetes will often experience dry mouth, gum inflammation and poor healing in the oral tissues, all of which can put a patient at greater risk for periodontal disease, but inflammation of the gums is by far the most threatening. Besides impairing white blood cells, diabetes also causes blood vessels to thicken. Thickened blood vessels slow the flow of nutrients and waste products from the tissues of the mouth. This inflammation greatly reduces the body’s ability to fight infections, such as the bacterial infection that causes periodontitis.

The great news is that gum disease is preventable, and even curable in its early stages! Just be sure to brush and floss your teeth, and get regular professional teeth cleanings and checkups. If you do require care for gum disease, we’re the team to trust. We provide multiple treatments for gum disease in East Ridge, TN depending on the severity of your case and the stage of gum disease you’re in. We’ll begin with a consultation that includes an oral examination.

Our dentist will assess your current oral health and provide you with a customized treatment plan that reflects your unique needs. Depending on your treatment and your anxiety level, we may offer calming sedation dentistry to guarantee you’re comfortable throughout your visit. With proper treatment, maintenance and good oral health habits, gum disease doesn’t have to return to damage your smile in the future. Most importantly, a smile free from bacteria and infection is part of an overall healthy lifestyle!

Stop Gum Disease in its tracks!

Schedule your appoint at Harry M Suekert DDS PLLC today