161 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Suite 5036
Milwaukee, WI 53203
1333 College Avenue
Suite C
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
GINGIVITIS - Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. Gingivitis is often caused by inadequate oral hygiene. Gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good oral home care.

PERIODONTITIS - Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums. The toxins stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body in essence turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets that become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Often, this destructive process has very mild symptoms, but eventually however, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed. Periodontal disease is sporadic, unpredictable and incurable.

How do I know if I have gum disease?

We measure your periodontal pockets at every cleaning and periodic exam. Our hygienists always work hard to communicate any changes or signs of disease to you. The measurements are spoken aloud, so you can hear for yourself if you have any deeper measurements. Generally, normal healthy measurements are within 1-3 mm deep. Anything higher than that could be a sign of periodontal disease. Your hygienist will discuss treatment options with you based on your individual needs.


Periodontitus occurs when plaque by-products lead to the destruction of the tissues that anchor the teeth in the bone. As this disease progresses, pockets form, which allows more plaque to collect below the gum line. Tooth roots are exposed and may become at risk for decay and sensitive to cold and touch.


Healthy gingiva (gum tissue), periodontal ligament and bone anchor teeth firmly in place.

What is the general approach to treating periodontal disease?

Generally, in pockets of at least 4-5mm, especially when the areas bleed, we will begin treatment with scaling and root planing. Scaling and root planing is a careful cleaning of the root surfaces to remove plaque and calculus (tartar) from deep periodontal pockets and to smooth the tooth root and remove bacterial toxins. This is a non-surgical approach that yields great results, however it is imperative to follow up with continued maintenance cleanings and excellent oral hygiene.

Sometimes we may recommend an adjunct of a local antibiotic either along with your scaling and root planning, or at your maintenance cleaning. This antibiotic is called Arestin®. Arestin® contains tiny microspheres filled with the antibiotic minocycline hydrochloride. The antibiotic is released over time, killing bacteria so that your gums can continue to heal. Unlike a pill, it is placed right into the periodontal pocket where you need it. This can help reduce the pocket and stop the bleeding.

Other times, if your periodontal disease is not responding to this treatment, or even if it is too far advanced at your initial visit with us, we may refer you to a periodontist. Periodontists specialize in the gums and bone that support and surround your teeth. Often times, the periodontist will suggest surgery in order to halt the progression of the disease and ultimately save your teeth. There are several types of surgery and treatment that could be an option for you depending on the severity of the disease

Periodontal Maintenance

One of the biggest things to understand about periodontal disease is that it will never be cured. Much like diabetes, it is a chronic condition that can only be controlled. Unfortunately, once bone damage has occurred, it is generally permanent and the resulting defects (pockets) are impossible to keep clean just using ordinary tools like brushing and flossing. Good disease control is a team effort which depends upon your careful oral hygiene at home and frequent office visits to monitor and maintain your gums and bone.

The frequency of these office visits will vary according to individual needs - however, studies show that after scaling and root planing it only takes three months for the bacteria to accumulate in these pockets to the point where they caused the problem in the first place. Most people are able to stay healthy when they schedule maintenance visits at 3 to 4 month intervals, a schedule that will be decided on between you and your hygienist. At each periodontal maintenance visit, we’'ll clean and disinfect above and below the gums, measure the bone level and take periodic X-rays. We might detect one or more areas of the mouth that have begun to relapse, in which case we can treat the area before it becomes a bigger problem. On the other hand, if there has been no change, that means the schedule is working for you - your periodontal disease is controlled and we should stay the course!