by Dr. Joseph P. Graskemper

The Bellport Village Dentist

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Chances are someone you know has had some stage of periodontal (gum) disease. Relax. There are many treatments available to fight back and retain your smile for lifetime.

Periodontal disease is caused by plaque, which is a film of bacteria on the teeth. It takes 24 hours for plaque to form.

If it is not removed, it becomes calculus (tartar buildup) around the neck of the tooth by the gum line.

Over time, the gums start to pull away due to the irritation of the calculus build-up.  Pockets next to the teeth become deeper and become filled with more plaque, leading to destruction of the bone supporting the teeth.

Periodontal disease is slow, painless and progressive. Therefore, most patients are unaware they have periodontal disease.

The sign of periodontal disease are: (1) gums that bleed when you brush your teeth, (2) red, swollen gums, (3) gums have receded, (4) pus between the teeth when you push on the gum tissue, (5) teeth that seem loose or the front teeth “fan” out, (6) a change in your bite, and (7) bad breath or chronic bad taste.

Early diagnosis and treatment is the key to saving teeth with periodontal disease.  To diagnose periodontal disease, a probe marked in millimeters is used to measure the pocket.

The space between tooth and gum is measured from the top of the gum tissue to the top of the bone level. A pocket greater that 3 mm is considered unhealthy and those greater than 5 mm generally have some stage of periodontal disease.

Treatment usually starts with a deep cleaning called a scaling and root planning, followed by re-evaluation one month later. 

If the pockets still exist, a flap procedure to allow direct access to the diseased area is usually recommended. Many anti-bacterial chips, gels, and mouth rinses are available to the dentist to help with minor periodontal problems. Remember, early diagnosis and treatment is the key to a healthy and happy smile.

More than half of all adults aged 35 and older have the early signs of periodontal disease which is a primary cause of tooth loss after age 35.  According to recent research, people with periodontal also have a higher incidence of health problems, including heart disease.

So it is very important to maintain professional dental cleanings and checkups for a lifetime of smiles.

To make your smile the best is can be, Dr. Graskemper, The Bellport Village Dentist, accepts many types of dental insurance and even has an in-office dental plan. Call for an exam and professional cleaning at 631-286-4243 or visit them online at