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 Gregory C. Dilger D.D.S.           General Dentist            1353 Edgewater St.          West Salem          (503) 378-0466   

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Gums and Gum Disease


Are you worried about gum disease or bad breath?  Have you been told you need gum surgery? Dr. Dilger has treated many cases of gum disease.  Here is some information to help.

Ø      What is Gum disease? 

Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is an infection below the gum line causing destruction of the gum tissue and bone surrounding and supporting the teeth. Gum disease starts with gingivitis. Gingivitis is red inflamed gum tissue, with no effect on the bone. The effects of gingivitis are reversible. Once the infection has progressed to where it is affecting the bone, or is virulent enough, the disease progresses to periodontitis, or as we will call it severe gum disease. As the disease progresses the area between the teeth and the gums, called a “sulcus”, deepens to become what we call a “pocket”. The deeper the pocket the more severe the disease is.

Ø      How do I know if I have Gum disease? 

Most people are completely unaware that they have an infection in their mouth. Generally it does not cause any pain or discomfort, and most people with out any dental background do not see any change in the appearance of their mouth until the disease is very severe. Some may however notice a bad taste, or have frequent bad breath. Coming to the dentist for a routine cleaning and exam is the best way to be sure that your mouth is healthy. Our dental hygienist will take measurements around each tooth of the “pockets”, observe the appearance and the texture of your gum tissue, will look for any recession of your gums (areas where root surfaces of teeth show due to loss of tissue), and they will check your teeth to see if they are loose. They will evaluate your mouth for signs of clenching and grinding, and other factors that may be contributing to your disease.

Ø      What are the consequences of gum disease? 

Gum disease affects the entire body system. The infection spreads to the blood stream very easily due to the location of the mouth, and then is circulated to the rest of the body. Gum disease can contribute to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, arthritis and even cancer. Having an infection in the mouth also makes the immune system less responsive to fight off viruses and bacteria that constantly attack the body’s defenses. A person with untreated gum disease is more likely to catch a cold, the flue, or worse.

Consequences of gum disease in the mouth include recession, bone loss, loose teeth, bad breath, red swollen gums, cavities, and eventual loss of teeth. Bone loss is critical because once too much bone is lost, we cannot save the teeth.

Ø     How do I prevent gum disease? 

SonicarePreventing gum disease is the best option. Prevention is best achieved by daily care of your mouth with flossing around each tooth in a “C” shape slightly under the gum line, and brushing all surfaces of the teeth thoroughly. We recommend and use the Sonicare toothbrush.  Living a healthy lifestyle by not smoking, eating healthy foods, and staying physically active, are other ways to help prevent gum disease. Healthy people are less likely to have gum disease, due to having a healthy immune system to help combat infection, and nutrients to build and rebuild cells in the body.          
        ***I have a video that shows how to floss.  Click here to watch it. ***

Ø      How is gum disease treated? 

Once gum disease has progressed past gingivitis it is necessary to take action to treat the infection.  Gum disease in its earlier stages can be treated with a process called scaling and Periolaseroot planning. This process requires three appointments. Generally this procedure would be performed by a dental hygienist. The dental hygienist would work on one side of the mouth one day and then the other side shortly after (the following day is preferred). Most patients like to be numb for this procedure. The dental hygienist will be cleaning and smoothing the root surfaces below the gum line. This process removes bacteria and the toxins they release under the gum line, as well as tarter, and debris creating an environment that will allow for healing of the tissues. The third appointment occurs one month later to polish the tops of the teeth and review home care.

More aggressive and severe stages of periodontal disease would be treated by Dr. Dilger with the Periolase, using the LANAP procedure. LANAP is very successful, and causes patients very little post procedure discomfort. 

Any stage of gum disease can and should be treated, and once treated must be maintained on a regular basis with home care and more frequent dental hygiene visits. Gum disease is just that, a disease, like heart disease. Like heart disease periodontal disease is not ever cured, it is a constant lifelong process that one must battle with, and take the proper measures to minimize the ill affects they cause.

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Patient Testamonials


Dear Dr. Dilger:


It all started with my initial phone call to Dr. Dilger's office. I felt so comfortable from the start and after I came in for my first visit it's been all about what I want and what Dr. Dilger and his staff recommends for me. All around, it's been the best dental experience I've ever had.


Al P.




Going to the dentist used to be a nightmare experience for me. That's all changed when I came to Dr. Dilger. Dr. Dilger's office staff are so warm and welcoming. Visiting them is like going home. Dr. Dilger's calm and caring manner erased all my dental anxiety and for the first time in my life I found myself relaxed in a dental chair. Dr. Dilger and his staff really took the time to get to know me and my concerns. They talked with me about my fears and helped me address my anxiety. Now I visit the dentist and I'm not afraid. I can not express the difference Dr. Dilger has made in my dental life! Thanks so much Dr. D.


Molly F.




I love my new smile.  It was so easy too.  Nearly pain free.  I am considering my lower teeth at a later date.


Debbie E.