Gig Harbor Family DentistPeriodontal Disease in Gig Harbor, WA

It begins with gingivitis

43 percent of American adults ages 30 and older have gum disease.  If Dr. Duffy or another dental professional has diagnosed you with gum or periodontal disease in Gig Harbor you may have questions about what this means for you. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition which begins with an infection of the gums called “gingivitis.” It is caused by the buildup of bacteria in the plaque on your teeth.

periodontal diseaseGingivitis is characterized by:

  • Bleeding gums (especially when you clean your teeth)
  • Swollen gums
  • Painful gums
  • Persistent bad breath

Gingivitis is often caused by:

  • Poor oral hygiene (brushing and flossing habits)
  • Lack of professional dental cleanings and care
  • Smoking
  • Misaligned teeth can also be a factor as this can make your teeth harder to clean

Less common causes include:

  • Hormonal changes
  • Some prescription medications
  • Poor nutrition
  • Family history of gum disease
  • Some systemic conditions including diabetes and leukemia 

There are three key steps you can take to reduce the chance that you will experience gum disease. These are:

  • Cleaning your teeth properly
  • Stopping smoking
  • Visiting your dentist regularly, ideally twice a year

If left untreated, gingivitis will likely progress into  a more serious condition called “periodontitis.”

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of gingivitis or would like more information about improving your oral hygiene habits, contact us to find out more.


Periodontitis is relatively easy to manage with regular dental cleaning exams but if left undetected, it can ultimately affect the bones, gums, joints and muscles surrounding your teeth. Treating periodontal disease is important. 

Symptoms of Periodontitis

As gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, your initial symptoms will have become worse and could potentially lead into more serious issues:

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums 
  • Receding gums 
  • Continual bad breath, despite breath care
  • Loose and/or painfully sensitive teeth 
  • Pain when chewing
  • Bone and/or tooth loss 
  • Possible systemic disease such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, respiratory issues and chronic kidney disease

Most patients who stay on top of their condition manage it successfully, although it is believed that genetics can make it more challenging. Dr. Duffy and our hygienists are always happy to answer your questions as well as help you improve your home care techniques for better tooth and gum health. And they want you to feel safe and comfortable every time you visit us. 

Learn more about our expert Periodontal Care in Gig Harbor, WA today.