About Periodontal Disease

Periodontal Disease is a chronic inflammatory infection that if left untreated, can lead to tooth loss. When bacteria accumulates below the gum line, it triggers the systemic inflammatory signals. Over time, the inflammatory response to the bacteria can cause infection of the gum tissue and the supporting bone.  The tissue will no longer fit snuggly around the teeth.  If left untreated, the bacteria will continue to grow and multiply and cause deterioration of the tissue and bone.  This causes the teeth to loosen and leads to tooth loss.  More importantly, research suggests that periodontal disease may share a link to systemic conditions.  Recent studies indicate that periodontal infection may be the connection.  If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer among others, Dr. Fortman will discuss the importance of oral health pertaining to your specific health condition.  Root exposure and a loss of bone and gum tissue and is a form of periodontal disease as well.  However, a recession is not always caused by a bacterial infection.

Gingivitis:  This is the earliest and most common form of periodontal disease.  The gum tissue is red, swollen and bleeds easily.  It is important to take this seriously. Bleeding gums are not normal.  The tissue needs attention.

Chronic Periodontitis:  This is the most destructive form of periodontal disease. There is inflammation and infection within the supporting tissue of the teeth.  This causes a pocket between the tissue and the tooth for bacteria to settle.  It may appear as if your teeth are getting longer but in reality, the tissue and bone are receding.  The progression of this disease usually occurs slowly but a rapid progression can occur as well.  Chronic periodontitis occurs more frequently in adults but can occur at any age.

Gum Recession: Recession occurs when the gum tissue that surrounds the tooth and the tooth’s roots wear or pulls back. This is a form of periodontal disease. However, it may not always be caused by bacteria. It occurs gradually and may cause tooth sensitivity.  Besides periodontal disease, a recession may be caused by aggressive brushing, inadequate home oral care, hormonal changes, and tobacco products.

Periodontitis as an indication of systemic disease:  Diabetes, respiratory disease, and heart disease are just a few examples of common systemic conditions that make a patient more susceptible to periodontitis.  This form of periodontitis often begins at a young age.

Comprehensive Periodontal Evaluation

Signs of Periodontal Disease

Making the Total Health Connection

Periodontal Disease and Diabetes: Periodontal disease has a significant impact on the control of diabetes. A diabetic is at a higher risk for developing this type of infection which can impair your ability to process and /or utilize insulin. It also makes it harder for you to control your blood glucose. Dr. Fortman and your physician will work together to help you control your diabetes and your periodontal disease.

Get more information on Periodontal Disease and Diabetes by clicking this link.


Periodontal Disease and Heart disease: There is a growing body of research showing an increased risk of heart disease and stroke among patients with untreated periodontal disease. This may be due to the oral bacteria entering the bloodstream, a weaker immune system due to a high level of oral bacteria or the possible connection between inflammation caused by periodontal disease and swelling of the arteries and worsening pre-existing heart conditions. More research is needed to better understand this connection. Dr. Fortman will ask about your heart health and work with your cardiologist if needed.

Gum Disease and Cardiovascular Disease


Periodontal Disease and Pregnancy: Pregnancy causes many hormonal changes which increase the risk of an expectant mother developing periodontal disease. Research has shown preeclampsia, low birth weight and premature birth linked to oral problems. An expectant mother should consider having a periodontal examination to ensure that her periodontal health is at its best.

Gum Disease and Women


Periodontal Disease and Respiratory Disease: Research suggests that bacteria found in the mouth can be drawn into the respiratory tract and cause an inflammatory response in the lungs. This may cause or worsen conditions such as emphysema, pneumonia, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). We encourage you to pursue a periodontal evaluation with Dr. Fortman if you have been diagnosed with a respiratory disease.

The Relationship Between Periodontal Diseases and Respiratory Diseases


Genetic Predisposition: If your parents wear dentures or you have a family history of tooth loss, you may be more likely to get periodontitis. Be alert for changes in your gum tissue. You may want to discuss your family history with Dr. Fortman.

Gum Disease Risk Factors


Periodontal Disease and Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is suspected as a risk factor in periodontal disease and a number of studies have investigated the possible relationship. Both periodontal disease and osteoporosis are bone resorption diseases. However; more research is needed to understand the association between these two common diseases. If you suffer from osteoporosis, following a comprehensive periodontal evaluation, Dr. Fortman will work with your physician to monitor your oral tissue and bone health.

Osteoporosis Linked with Periodontal Disease


Cancer and Periodontal Disease: There is evidence that chronic infections and inflammation are associated with increased risk of certain cancers. Research continues to study the links between oral and systemic health and various forms of cancer.

The Link Between Periodontal Disease and Cancer


Rheumatoid Arthritis: Both Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Chronic Periodontists are systemic inflammatory diseases.  This may explain the connection between the two.  Research has discovered that patients with RA are eight times more likely to have periodontal disease.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and Gum Disease

Other factors that may contribute to periodontal disease