A Dominican woman with curly brown hair and a white tank top is laughing with a big open mouth smile.

Your Guide to Gum Health

Maintaining good oral hygiene habits is the best way to prevent gum disease and oral problems. Unfortunately, brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist are not always enough. You may need a specialist to help you with more advanced gum issues. That specialist is called a periodontist.

A periodontist is a dentist with extra training and experience in treating gum disease and placing dental implants. A periodontist like Dr. Megan A. Ratliff can help you prevent, diagnose, and treat conditions that affect your gums and the supporting structures of your teeth.

Know Your Numbers

A good dentist will recommend a periodontist if you need one. Early diagnosis is crucial to keeping your teeth. During your dental exam, your dentist will probe the gum pockets of your teeth.

You will hear your dentist say and record numbers as they probe your gums. Those numbers represent the depth in millimeters of the pocket surrounding your tooth.

Know your numbers! If your dentist does not say them out loud, ask them what they are. Here is what the numbers mean:



You have healthy gums that are well-attached to your teeth. Keep up the excellent work!



This could be the early stage of gum disease. Follow your dentist's advice and improve your oral hygiene habits.



You need to see a Periodontist. Your gums are in trouble! This is a serious stage of gum disease. It can lead to tooth loss. It can also lead to other oral and systemic health risks.

Don’t Ignore Your Gums

Your gums are not just there to hold your teeth in place; they are vital to your overall health. Gum disease can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other chronic conditions. Learn More about periodontal disease.

When To See A Periodontist

Toothbrush with blood in the bottom of the sink, near the drain stopper.

Bleeding gums while brushing or flossing

This could indicate early-stage gingivitis up to advanced periodontitis.

Close-up of a mouth with cheeks retracted showing all of the teeth with very red inflamed gums and gaps between teeth, signs of periodontal disease.

Receding gums or gaps between your teeth

This could mean that you are losing bone and tissue due to gum disease.

A Hispanic woman with black hair in a trenchcoat has a pained look on her face and is holding her jaw with one hand and a popsicle outdoors in a park, suggesting toothache or sensitivity from dental issues.

Pain or sensitivity when chewing or biting

This could be caused by infection or inflammation in your gums or roots.

Elderly person covering mouth with hand, implying bad breath or taste due to oral health problems.

Bad breath or taste that won’t go away

This could be caused by bacteria and plaque buildup under your gum. It can also be a sign of tooth decay.

Smile with loose or shifting teeth, possibly due to advanced gum disease or bone loss.

Loose or shifting teeth

This could indicate that your teeth are losing their support from the surrounding bone and gum tissues due to gum disease.

Dentist showing a female patient with brown hair  in a dental chair a model of teeth with an implant, representing periodontal implant process.

Getting an implant

Periodontists understand bone and soft tissue, making them the best choice for implant placement.

Smiling adult male with dark hair and glasses, with braces on his teeth

Orthodontics as an adult

If your gums are not healthy, you risk significant bone loss as your teeth begin to move.

African American woman with hair pulled back in a ponytail sitting on a couch with a white shirt and grey cardigan checking glucose levels, linking diabetes management with periodontal care.


Managing your blood sugar can be challenging, but a periodontal program can help you control your diabetes while potentially reducing your medication.

Elderly Indian man with a white beard clutching chest, wearing a white button-down with a dark green cardigan. Symbolizing the connection between heart disease and gum health.

Heart disease

Systemic conditions increase your risk of developing gum disease and can lead to further complications.

Close-up of the bottom profile of a man's mouth with salt and paper scruffy facial hair using an e-cigarette, blowing smoke, and holding a black vape pen in his right hand. Highlighting the risk of smoking on gum disease.

Smoking or vaping

Both habits can increase your risk of developing gum disease. In addition, smokers experience twice the bone loss of nonsmokers.

Pregnant Woman with her belly exposed and a white sports bar on with a young girl holding her ear and hand against the pregnant belly, looking directly into the camera. Depicting hormonal effects on gum health during pregnancy.

Pregnant or planning to become pregnant

Hormonal changes and hormone therapy can affect your gums and make them more prone to inflammation and infection.

Senior woman with short white hair with hand on wrist, representing pain in her hand or wrist signifying osteoporosis' impact on gum disease risk.

Osteoporosis, or other systemic conditions

Systemic conditions increase your risk of developing gum disease and can lead to further complications.

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Pure Perio | 1775 Glenview Rd ste 212

Glenview Il 60025 | (847)724-6343

Periodontal Therapies & Services

Periodontal Therapy

While there is no cure for periodontal disease, it can be treated surgically and maintained non surgically. Some treatments include scaling and root planing, osseous surgery, and perio-maintenance. Learn more more about our periodontal treatment options.

Implant Services

Dental implants replace missing teeth. Implants offer improved appearance, long-lasting teeth, and enhanced comfort over other options. Learn more to see if implants are right for you.

Laser Therapy

Laser therapy provides a no cut no sew alternative to traditional gum surgeries. Lasers can also aid in tissue regeneration. Learn more about laser therapy and the LANAP and LAPIP procedures.

Recession Therapy

Gum recession exposes the roots of teeth and can lead to sensitivity and decay. It also affects the aesthetics of your smile. Gum grafting is a procedure that helps cover exposed roots and regenerate lost gum tissue. Learn more about the surgical techniques used to treat recession.

Specialty Services

As a full service periodontal practice, Pure Perio utilizes the latest dental technologies, imaging, and surgical techniques allowing for the best patient care and customized treatments including hard tissue preservation, aesthetics, and regenerative services. Learn more about the specialty services offered.

Post Operative Care

Proper post-operative care is crucial for healing and recovery after oral surgery. Be sure to follow all instructions, and attend post operative appointments. With proper after care procedures, we can ensure smooth and comfortable healing. Learn more about procedure specific instructions.

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