Board Certified Periodontist, Dr. Scott O. Kissel

Know The Signs Of Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a serious infection that damages the soft tissue and bone supporting your teeth. Without treatment, gum disease can lead to tooth loss.


Many people have gum disease but don’t know it because the early symptoms, such as bleeding gums, aren’t always painful. Dr. Scott Kissel and the NYC Periodontics and Implant Dentistry team want you to understand gum disease symptoms and risk factors so you can get treatment early and improve your oral health.


Our experienced New York periodontist uses advanced techniques like dental microsurgery to stop gum disease progression, repair damage, and help you maintain a healthy smile. Call 212-702-9088 to schedule your consultation at NYC Periodontics and Implant Dentistry.

Gum Disease Symptoms

Healthy gums are firm, pale pink, and fitted tightly around the teeth. Signs and symptoms of gum disease include:

Bacteria in the mouth can lead to infections and swelling in the gum tissue, eventually causing gum disease and potential tooth loss. Many people aren’t aware they have gum disease because the symptoms are subtle in the early stages.

If you notice any symptoms of gum disease, schedule an appointment with our NYC dentist by calling 212-702-9088. The earlier you treat gum disease, the better your outcome.

Periodontal Disease Causes and Risk Factors

Plaque buildup is the primary cause of gum disease. Plaque is the sticky film of bacteria that constantly forms on our teeth. It’s important to remove plaque daily by brushing and flossing. When plaque isn’t removed, it can harden under your gumline into tartar (calculus). Tartar is harder to remove than plaque and usually requires professional dental cleaning.


Factors that can increase your risk of gum disease include:


  • Poor oral hygiene habits
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Genetics — some people are more prone to gum disease
  • Crooked teeth that are hard to keep clean
  • Pregnancy
  • Diabetes
  • Certain medications like steroids, some types of anti-epilepsy drugs, cancer therapy drugs, some calcium channel blockers, and oral contraceptives

The hormonal changes of pregnancy can increase gum sensitivity and make it easier for gingivitis to develop. Untreated gingivitis can progress to periodontitis and raise the risk of pregnancy complications like premature birth.


If you have diabetes, you’re at higher risk for developing infections, including gum disease. Gum disease can also make diabetes harder to control. Symptoms are often worse if your diabetes isn’t well-controlled. Untreated gum disease can also lead to more serious conditions like coronary artery disease.

Gum Disease Progression

The longer plaque and tartar remain on your teeth, the more damage they can do. Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease. With gingivitis, your gums become swollen and red and may bleed easily. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good at-home oral care.


Periodontitis is an advanced gum disease. With periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth and form spaces, or “pockets,” that become infected. Your immune system fights the bacteria as the plaque spreads and grows below the gum line.


Bacterial toxins and your body’s natural response to infection start to break down the bone and connective tissue that hold teeth in place. If not treated, the bones, gums, and tissue that support the teeth are destroyed. The teeth may eventually become loose and have to be removed. Periodontal disease can be contagious and spread through bacteria in saliva when kissing someone or sharing utensils.

Diagnosing Gum Disease

During a dental exam at our innovative NYC dental office, Dr. Kissel will:

  • Examine your gums for signs of inflammation
  • Use a tiny ruler called a “probe” to check for and measure any pockets around the teeth
    • In a healthy mouth, the depth of these pockets is usually between one and three millimeters
  • Ask about your medical history to identify conditions or risk factors that may contribute to gum disease
  • Take X-rays to see if there’s any bone loss

Gum Disease Treatment

The main goal of treatment is to control the infection. Treatment varies depending on the extent of the gum disease. Options range from nonsurgical therapies that control bacterial growth to surgery to restore supportive tissues.

A dental hygienist plays a crucial role in various periodontal treatments, such as scaling and root planing, and assists in procedures like: 



Your treatment plan will depend on many factors, including your health and how far the condition has progressed.

In some cases, surgical treatments may be necessary. These can include flap surgery, soft tissue grafts, and bone grafts to replace bone lost to gum disease. Bone grafting involves placing bone grafting material into areas where the bone has eroded, acting as scaffolding for the body to regenerate its bone over time.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I prevent gum disease?

You can help prevent gum disease by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice daily, floss at least once daily, eat a healthy diet, and schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings. If you smoke, quitting can significantly lower your risk.

Is gum disease curable?

Gingivitis can be reversed with professional treatment and good at-home oral care. Periodontitis isn’t curable, but it’s manageable with proper treatment from a dental health professional and a commitment to improving oral hygiene. Once periodontitis reaches an advanced stage, the damage to your teeth and gums is irreversible.

What health problems can gum disease cause?

Studies suggest gum disease may be linked to other health conditions like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and respiratory disease. Treating gum disease may help improve your health.

Does gum disease run in families?

Research suggests some people may be genetically susceptible to gum disease. If you have a family history of gum problems, be sure to mention it to your dentist so you can be closely monitored and treated.

Schedule Your Gum Disease Treatment With Dr. Kissel

By understanding gum disease symptoms and risk factors, you can take steps to prevent or catch it early, when treatment is most effective. Practicing good oral hygiene habits, quitting smoking, eating a balanced diet, and scheduling regular dental check-ups are all important ways to maintain healthy gums. 

If you notice any signs of gum disease, don’t wait to seek treatment. At NYC Periodontics and Implant Dentistry, Dr. Scott Kissel and our skilled team are committed to helping you achieve and maintain optimal gum health. Contact us today at 212-702-9088 to schedule your consultation.