According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 64.7 million Americans over the age of 30 have gum disease. Otherwise known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the gums and bone that surround the teeth. It is typically caused by poor oral hygiene, which leads to the buildup of bacteria.
There are several stages of gum disease, and learning how to recognize each can help you pinpoint the issue and get to the dentist as soon as possible. Here are the stages of periodontal disease.
The first stage, gingivitis, is the most common form of periodontal disease. When plaque buildup on the teeth and around the gums becomes severe, it leads to irritation. This irritation causes swelling, redness, and bleeding. The bleeding will become worse when you brush your teeth. If you are in this earliest stage of periodontal disease, you can completely reverse this condition and restore the health and appearance of your teeth.
Visit your dentist immediately if you suspect you are suffering from gingivitis. Your dentist will diagnose the condition and create a plan of attack to help reverse the effects of periodontal disease. For example, your dentist might recommend a certain type of toothpaste, encourage you to practice good oral hygiene, and have you visit their office more often to monitor your progress.
If a patient is suffering from gingivitis and they do not improve their oral health or visit their dentist to help combat the issue, they will often enter the next stage, which is early periodontal disease. During this stage, the patient's plaque buildup will worsen, and the damage spreads from the teeth and gums to the tissue beneath the gums and the jawbone.
The patient's gums will often recede during this stage, and they will notice small pockets forming at the gum line. The pockets can store food and bacteria, which will spread the infection even further. Unfortunately, any damage to the teeth and gums during this stage isn't reversible. However, with swift intervention, your dentist can help minimize the damage and prevent the infection from spreading.
For example, your dentist might recommend a procedure called root planing and scaling, otherwise known as a deep cleaning. The dentist will use tools to scrape away the plaque and tartar from your gumline, which is the scaling portion of the treatment. Root planing occurs when the dentist uses the same tool to remove plaque and tartar from around the root.
Root planing is beneficial if the tartar and plaque buildup has caused the tooth to start pulling away from the gums.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
This final stage of periodontal disease occurs when the buildup becomes extremely severe, the infection has spread, and the teeth and gums are swollen and very sore. During this stage, patients will have bad breath, persistent toothaches, broken teeth, loose teeth, or even tooth loss. Tooth loss often occurs because the gums have severely receded.
Unfortunately, the damage could spread to the bones supporting your mouth. This can mean extensive surgeries and procedures to eliminate the infection and repair any damage. If you are diagnosed with advanced periodontal, your dentist will create an aggressive plan to help minimize pain and restore your smile. This plan will including removing any teeth that have been severely damaged. Once teeth are removed, your dentist will determine if implants or partial dentures are the best way to prevent any further tooth shifting or tooth loss and help bring back your beautiful smile.
If you suspect you are suffering from any stage of gum disease, it is critical to contact your dentist immediately to discuss your options. Reach out to a clinic such as RTC Dental for more information.