Periodontal disease affects the gums and bone that surround and support teeth. Half of American adults have some form of gum disease and it is the leading cause of tooth loss in the U.S. Periodontal disease is a threat to your overall health, let alone your oral health. The cause for periodontal disease is millions of toxin producing bacteria colonizing in plaque and calculus that adheres to your teeth. Gingivitis starts to occur, which if allowed to go untreated can become periodontitis. Signs and symptoms are often silent. You may not know you have it until it’s too late and damage is done. Haeussner Family Dentistry has several ways to treat gum disease, including scaling and root planing, debridements and professional cleanings. Preventing periodontal disease is a key component in our practice philosophy so that this harmful bacterial infection does not affect your oral health and overall body health.

Threat to your overall health

Periodontal disease due to its chronic inflammation and bacterial infection has been linked in recent studies to other systemic diseases. Periodontal disease can increase the risk of:

Heart Disease Cancer Pre-term delivery and low birth weight
Stroke Alzheimer’s disease Obesity
Diabetes Respiratory diseases Osteoporosis

With treating periodontal disease, not only will your mouth be healthier, but so will your body

What causes periodontal disease?

Millions of bacteria in your mouth combine with food debris to form a layer of film called plaque that sticks to your teeth. Calculus, or tartar, forms when the plaque stays on your teeth for too long and is hardened by minerals in your saliva. Plaque and calculus build up layers over time that are harmful because they contain bacteria that produces acid in the mouth. This toxic bacterial end product causes cavities in teeth and inflammation and irritation damaging to the tissue surrounding the teeth. These deposits of plaque and calculus need to be removed before they can cause permanent damage. Plaque can be easily brushed off, but calculus is calcified onto the teeth and can only be removed with professional cleanings and other periodontal therapy. If not treated, the inflammation can progress with time into gingivitis and periodontitis.


Inflammation of the gums is gingivitis. It is the most common gum disease and the earliest form. Red, tender, swollen, and bleeding gums can occur from the inflammation. There has not yet been tissue or bone loss with gingivitis, but it must be treated before it becomes the more serious periodontitis.


Advanced gum disease is periodontitis, where inflammation and infection damages the gum and bone that support teeth. When bone is lost around the tooth, it is lost for good. It’s important to stop periodontitis before it infects more supporting tissue. When enough gum and bone has become compromised, the tooth can become loose and may need to be taken out.

How do you know if you have gingivitis or periodontitis?

Most patients do not even know that they have gum disease since it is often painless and many observe that they have a problem only until the disease is advanced. Signs and symptoms of gum disease include:

Inflamed gums:

  • bleed easily with brushing or flossing
  • appear red, tender, or swollen
  • recede away from teeth exposing sensitive roots

Bone loss:

  • Loose or drifting teeth
  • Painful chewing or bite changes


  • Pus, abscess or swelling
  • Bad breath
  • Pain

If you have noticed that you have any of the above symptoms, consult with the professional team at Haeussner Family Dentistry. It is important to stop the progression of the gum disease before more serious damage occurs. Dr. Brian will thoroughly evaluate your periodontal health. To diagnose gum disease, the depth of the gum pockets that surround each tooth is measured using a periodontal probe, which is basically a tiny ruler. Healthy numbers are 1, 2 or 3mm without any bleeding or inflammation seen when probing. Bleeding with probing means gingivitis is present. Four and five millimeters means there is mild periodontal disease going on. The higher the number around the tooth means there has been more bone loss. Any number probed greater than 5mm, means the disease is advanced and more difficult to treat. With severe gum disease, we may refer you to a periodontist, a dentist who has specialized in treating advanced cases.

Scaling and Root Planing

Periodontitis is treated with scaling and root planing, also known as deep cleanings. Scaling with hand or ultrasonic instruments removes the deposits of calculus and toxin producing bacteria that’s causing this destructive gum disease. Planing then smoothes all rough root surfaces making it harder for bacteria, plaque and calculus to re-adhere to the root.
Scaling and root planing is typically broken up into two appointments, completing one side of the mouth at a time. It frequently requires local anesthetic to numb the tissue to allow us to fully be able to remove the bacteria and calculus from the deep pockets.
Periodontal therapy removes the bacterial infection that is occurring beneath the gums, permits the gums to heal, and reduces the depth of the pocket. This allows you to clean the gums better and prevent serious diseases from occurring. Without scaling and root planing, the disease will continue to progress until bone loss is so advanced that costly dentistry is needed to help repair the damage.

What is periodontal maintenance?
Once your mouth is restored to health with scaling and root planing, it is important to return on a regular basis for periodontal maintenance. Every 3-4 months periodic routine periodontal care is needed to prevent the bacteria from re-colonizing the pockets and beginning the gum disease all over again.


When a person has not had a cleaning completed in several years, the calculus continues to builds up around the teeth and underneath of the tissue. The tissue becomes inflamed and bleeds easily. Often the deposits on the teeth are so large that it obscures the dentist's ability to examine the health of the tissue. When the calculus has years to adhere to the teeth, it becomes very tenacious and harder to remove than it would with routine cleanings. For these reasons a debridement may be recommended for you first. Debridement therapy removes the heavy deposits with high tech ultrasonic scalers that break up large chunks of calculus with water and vibration. After a debridement, Dr. Brian Haeussner can then complete a periodontal exam and recommend the next step for you. Often a regular cleaning is completed a few weeks after the debridement, to be able to remove any remaining calculus and assess that the tissue is doing better. The debridement removes the toxin producing bacteria and inflammation which stops the progression of gum disease before it causes severe damage.


A professional cleaning (or prophy) will leave your mouth healthier, cleaner, fresher, and better looking. Our highly trained dental hygienists remove the unhealthy colonies of microorganisms along with plaque, tartar, and surface stains that brushing alone can’t get rid of. The teeth are then polished leaving a smooth shiny surface that is harder for the bacteria and debris to adhere to. Routine cleanings are a key element in our preventive program in stopping gum disease from occurring.
How often do you need to have your teeth cleaned?
For many people, cleanings done twice a year help remove the bacteria and deposits that cause cavities and gum disease. For others, every 6 months is not enough and they may need to be seen 3 or 4 times a year, depending on how much and how quickly plaque and calculus builds up for them. Treatment recommendations and cleanings are personalized to your needs as everyone’s mouth is different.

How can gum disease be prevented?

We stress preventive dentistry in our office, providing education and care to prevent disease from happening. Good oral hygiene at home is essential to good oral health. We can provide tips and recommendations to help with your daily routine. Preventive care includes oral hygiene instructions that provide insights in to how to best brush and floss.
Another key to prevention is having routine exams, x-rays, and cleanings or periodontal maintenance. The longer a problem, such as a cavity or gum disease, goes on, the worse it gets with time. Exams and radiographs provide a complete picture of what is going on with your health and help catch dental conditions early before they become serious. The earlier the intervention, the less treatment needed. Routine cleanings and maintenance help remove the deposits that are impossible to get off at home and maintain optimum oral health.