Periodontal disease diagnosis and treatment solutions in Petaluma, CA

When you think about a healthy smile, taking good care of your teeth is probably the first thing that comes to mind. But did you know that keeping your gums healthy is just as important for not just your oral health, but also your overall well being? Left untreated, periodontal disease can progress to the point that it causes receding gums and tooth loss, and a growing body of research has shown that gum disease is linked to several serious systemic diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, Alzheimers disease and gut issues. At North Bay Smiles, patients in the Petaluma, CA area and the neighboring communities of Rohnert Park, Cotati, Santa Rosa, and Novato can rely on Dr. Yvonne Szyperski to diagnose and treat their gum disease effectively, while using a gentle and compassionate approach.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease, which is also known as gum disease, is an infectious and inflammatory condition that affects the gums surrounding your teeth. It is a progressive condition, which means that while it may start out with only mild symptoms, it can grow into a more serious problem for your oral health over time that is much more difficult to treat.

In its earliest stage, periodontal disease is called gingivitis, which is a mild inflammation in the gums due to the buildup of plaque and bacteria where the teeth meet the gums. The bacteria produces toxic by-products that reside in the plaque and eat away at the gums, causing an inflammatory response in the body that can ultimately lead to the breakdown of not just gum tissue, but also the tooth, bone, and supporting ligaments.

Before and After

Periodontal disease before and after treatment



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*Individual results may vary


Diagnosing gum disease starts with a visual examination of your teeth and gums, as well as the use of a periodontal probe to gently measure the distance from the top of your gums to the bone. Larger pockets tend to be associated with more advanced stages of periodontal disease. We will also ask you about any symptoms you may have and use the information we gather from your dental exam to diagnose gum disease.


The treatment options for gum disease vary depending on the stage it is at. In general, the earlier it is treated, the better the outcomes.

  • Gingivitis can often be managed with just a few extra professional dental cleanings to remove the built-up tartar and plaque, along with more diligent home care
  • For patients who have developed pockets that are harboring bacteria and plaque beneath the gum line, a deeper cleaning called scaling and root planing is often recommended. During this procedure, we numb your mouth and then gently remove the plaque, tartar, and bacteria both above and below the gumline, and then smooth the tooth root to help the gums re-attach to the tooth’s surface.
  • We may also recommend the use of special medicated mouth rinses, oral or topical medications, and an electric toothbrush to help curb the infection
  • For advanced gum disease, periodontal surgery to reduce the pocket depth and remove diseased tissue may be necessary.


After your initial periodontal treatment is complete, an equally important component of your care plan is long-term maintenance. Typically, patients who have undergone periodontal treatment will benefit from maintenance periodontal cleanings three to four times per year, where we will check the pocket depths and your gum health and remove any built-up plaque and tartar from above and below the gum line. We will also perform the other components of routine cleanings and exams, such as taking x-rays as needed, checking your teeth for signs of decay, performing an oral cancer screening, and polishing your teeth.

Causes of Periodontal Disease

While insufficient oral hygiene is the primary cause of periodontal disease, there are several other risk factors that can contribute to its development, including:

  • Hormonal changes, such as during pregnancy
  • Medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, HIV, and respiratory diseases
  • Using tobacco or recreational drugs
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Use of birth control pills
  • Chronic stress
  • Grinding and clenching your teeth
  • Tooth loss – when you are missing a tooth, you are more likely to develop gum disease in that area
  • Genetic predisposition
  • Certain medications that cause a decrease in saliva flow

Types of Periodontal Disease

There are many different types of periodontal disease that have various underlying causes and manifestations of the disease, but a common factor with all types is that urgent treatment is important to prevent the disease from progressing and causing irreversible damage.

  • Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is caused by the toxins in plaque.
  • Chronic periodontal disease is most common in people over the age of 40 (but can occur earlier) and is associated with inflammation and destruction of the gums and bone.
  • Aggressive periodontal disease is associated with rapid detachment of the gums, as well as rapid bone loss. It is like chronic periodontitis but progresses much faster. This is more common in patients who smoke or have a family history of this type of disease.
  • Periodontal disease related to systemic conditions occurs when gum disease is a symptom of another underlying condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, and respiratory disease.
  • Necrotizing periodontal disease is rare and is more common among people who have immunosuppression, malnutrition, HIV, smoke tobacco, or suffer from chronic stress and can occur in younger patients

Signs & Symptoms of Periodontal Disease

Many patients with gum disease are not even aware they have it because it can start out with few to no symptoms. However, Dr. Szyperski can quickly detect it through regular check-ups and help start you on a path towards healthier gums, which is part of why it is so important to see us regularly for your routine cleanings and examinations. As gum disease progresses, some of the common signs & symptoms include:

  • Bleeding when you are eating, brushing, or flossing
  • Puffy, red, or painful gums
  • Teeth that look longer than they used to due to gum recession
  • Bad breath that does not go away
  • A change in the way your teeth bite together
  • Pus oozing in between the teeth
  • Movement of teeth

Schedule your appointment today!

At North Bay Smiles, we care about the health of your whole mouth and provide effective solutions for patients with all stages of gum disease. To schedule your appointment, call us in Petaluma, CA today at (707) 306-8001.