What Are the Common Causes of Periodontal Disease in Adults?

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Periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis, is an advanced form of gum disease, or gingivitis. It involves infection and inflammation of the tissues that hold your teeth in place, including your gums and jawbone.

It’s prevalent across various age ranges, with over 47% of adults suffering from some form of periodontal disease. Its prevalence increases with age, afflicting more than 70% of individuals over the age of 65.

Since periodontal disease can sneak up on the unsuspecting, you should prioritize scheduling regular checkups. So, if you notice your gums receding or any pain, swelling, or redness, contact us at Premier Periodontics right away to get the best treatment outcomes. We also invite you to visit one of our locations in Washington, including Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Olympia, and Redmond.

What is periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease begins as a milder form of gum disease called gingivitis. It’s mainly caused by poor cleaning habits and inconsistent dental care, which allow a buildup of bacteria on the teeth in the form of a sticky, invisible film called plaque.

If left to its own devices, the plaque hardens into tartar, further aggravating the tissues that hold and surround the teeth. This causes the gums to recede, forming “pockets” and creating gaps between the teeth and gumline. As the infection spreads into these spaces, it damages the tissues that hold the teeth in place.

What are the signs of periodontal disease?

  • Tooth decay

  • Swollen, red, tender, or painful gums

  • Receding gums

  • Bleeding gums

  • Persisting bad breath or a consistent bad taste in your mouth

  • Loose or sensitive teeth

  • Pain or difficulty while chewing

  • A change in your bite or gaps forming

Even if your gums may look and feel fine, periodontal disease could still be at work, wrecking your dental health. The best way to take control of your dental health, and quash future problems, is to contact us at Premier Periodontics for a consultation with our expert periodontists.

What are the long-term health risks of untreated periodontal disease?

With the accumulation of tartar below the gumline, the infection and inflammation damage the fibers that hold your teeth, loosening them and possibly necessitating an extraction. The damage may spread to your jawbone, weakening your overall dental structure.

Severe gum disease has also been linked to various health problems throughout the body, like cardiovascular diseases. For example, those with severe gum disease were found to be two to three times likelier to suffer a stroke or heart attack. However, scientists admit there may not be a direct connection. Rather, gum disease may be an independent risk factor.

Severe gum disease may be especially dangerous for those with conditions of the heart valves or of the blood vessels. Atherosclerosis is the development of fatty plaques on the walls of the arteries, and researchers have found oral bacteria lodged within these deposits. It’s believed that this bacteria can travel from the mouth through the bloodstream to infect the heart. Alternatively, it may end up in the lungs and contribute to respiratory diseases.

And protein plaques, a major sign of developing neurodegenerative diseases, have been linked with a certain type of bacteria that’s also a prominent cause of gum disease. Further evidence suggests that older individuals with mouth infections or gum disease were likelier to develop Alzheimer’s.

More recent evidence also points to a link between advanced gum disease and various types of cancer, such as lung cancer and colorectal cancer. While the exact mechanism is unknown, studies have found that those with severe gum disease (based on the depth of the pocket between the gum and tooth) are more at risk.

Get treatment for periodontal disease

These risks may be exacerbated by your body’s immune response to an infection in the mouth. This immune response triggers a cascade of systemic biological effects, including inflammation. And the stress caused by chronic inflammation has detrimental effects throughout the body.


With such an extensive laundry list of potential problems, it’s imperative to halt periodontal disease in its tracks. Our caring, detail-attentive team of periodontists would love to help you take control of your oral health. So, contact us at Premier Periodontics today. We also invite you to visit one of our Washington-based practices in Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Kirkland, Mercer Island, Olympia, and Redmond.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.