What is Gum Disease?

Dr. Porter Fountain Hills Dentist

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a very common malady effecting almost all adults over age 40.  In fact other than the common cold it is the world’s most common affliction.  And the most common cause of tooth loss.  All mouths are “infected” with bacteria, commonly called “plaque”.  To control the growth of plaque is why we brush our teeth.  But no matter how well we brush our teeth plaque will be left behind.  This left behind plaque will harden to become calculus, which can’t be removed by brushing alone. 

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Left behind plaque hardens to become calculus.


Plaque is left behind…
…and hardens to become calculus(tarter)

What is Gum Disease?

One common place for calculus is behind the lower anterior teeth:


Continued accumulation of calculus at the gum line and under the gum leads to the formation of “periodontal” pockets.  As these pockets get deeper they become more difficult to clean and lead to progressive loss of tooth attachment. (gum tissue, cementum, and bone) Continued irritation by micro organisms in plaque and calculus lead to the formation of periodontal pockets. In the diagram captioned, ‘Periodontal Pocketing,’ note that not only are the gums inflamed and shrunken, but the bone that holds the tooth in place has been partially lost.  Your dentist or hygienist will check the depth of your pockets to assess the severity of the disease. (periodontitis)

Periodontal Pocketing

Your dentist or hygienist will check for periodontal disease with a “perio probe”.
Pocket depths 3 mm or less are considered normal, while pocket depths 6 mm and over are serious.

Bone loss from periodontitis.

As periodontal disease continues untreated eventually the pockets reach the end or apex of  the tooth.  Up until this point the disease process has been painless.  But at this point pain will be felt and the only alternative will be extraction.  Teeth can become very mobile in the terminal stages of periodontal disease and can sometimes be pulled out with your fingers.       


Dr. Porter Fountain Hills Dentist
Perio Probe

Periodontitis causes inflamed, bleeding, and receding gums. It also causes bone loss.

How to Avoid Periodontitis?

What you can do to help stop the progress of periodontal disease is to to improve oral hygiene and to make an effort to clean below the gum line.  Vibrating your toothbrush bristles at a 45 degree angle under the gum line, and flossing under the gum line will help.    

Vibrate Toothbrush at a 45 degree angle.
Floss under the gum line.

Periodontal disease is treated by scaling and root planing, that is, scraping calculus and debris from under the gum line.  The is done by Dentists, Hygienists, and Periodontists (Dentists that specialize in treating gum disease)  Other treatments include bone and tissue grafting, antibiotics injected under the gum line, and laser cleanings. Consult your Dentist to see what he or she recommends.

Avoid Periodontal Disease!

Regular visits to your dentist will help prevent periodontitis.  Our new patient special, including X-Rays, an exam, and cleaning, is only $65.  During this visit, Dr. Porter checks periodontal pocketing with a perio probe to identify any problem areas. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Porter today! 

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Contact Information

John A. Porter DMD

Phone: 480.816.3214

Address: 17100 E. Shea Blvd. # 450 

Fountain Hills, AZ 85268

(Across the street from   Comfort Inn, next to VFW)

Email: FHdmd@gmx.com

Fax:  480.816.0857

Hours of Operation

Monday 9am-5pm

Tuesday 9am-5pm

Wednesday 9am-5pm

Thursday  9am-5pm

Friday – Saturday – Sunday,

By Appointment


Emergencies: 480.525.0341

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