Periodontal Disease Requires Immediate Treatment: Stages of Gum Disease
Periodontal disease (gum disease) is a serious problem that affects as much as 75 percent of the population. Periodontal disease is preventable with daily brushing, flossing and regular dental checkups. But if and when periodontal disease does strike, treat it early because advanced periodontal disease can cause tooth loss and even life-threatening health problems, such as heart disease and cancer.
Three Stages of Periodontal Disease:
- Gingivitis: Periodontal disease begins with gingivitis. Gingivitis happens when plaque starts to accumulate at the gum line, causing inflammation. Neglecting to brush and floss everyday causes plaque buildup. Eventually this causes bacteria to get trapped in the gums. The most common signs of gingivitis are swollen, bleeding gums. Patients often report seeing blood when they floss and brush their teeth and the gums may also look redder (healthy gums are pink). The good news is that gingivitis can be reversed at this stage, and the bones and tissues that support the teeth are still healthy.
- Periodontitis: When gingivitis goes untreated, it will progress to the next stage, which is called periodontitis. Now the bones and fibers that support the teeth are damaged beyond repair. Gum pockets are also present between the gums and teeth. Gum pockets are deep, hollowed areas where food, plaque and bacteria live. The gum line is also beginning to recede at this point and gaps may also exist between teeth. Patients who move beyond gingivitis to the periodontitis stage need treatment immediately or they face more damage and tooth loss.
- Advanced periodontitis: This is the final and most debilitating stage of periodontal disease. At this point, the bacteria has grown and spread to such a high degree that some of the bones and connective tissue in the mouth are gone. Teeth are often loose, may be falling out, and the gum pockets are very deep. Teeth that shift will adversely affect the bite and can make eating difficult and uncomfortable. Immediate, aggressive periodontal disease treatment is required to save teeth from falling out.