Half of Americans thirty years old and above develop some periodontal disease in their life. Many of those affected with first-stage gum disease do not even know it. By learning in-depth, we can keep our gums healthy and avoid the pitfalls of periodontal disease.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is an infection caused by harmful bacteria in the mouth. The human mouth has its ecosystem, with both good and bad bacteria. The harmful bacteria combine with sugars left in the mouth to form plaque on the teeth and the edges of the gums. This plaque, if left untreated, releases inflammatory enzymes that break down gum tissues.
Catching periodontal disease in the early stages prevents other health-related complications such as bone loss or cardiovascular disease.
What are the Causes of Periodontal Disease?
All periodontal diseases all come down to one major issue – bacteria. Periodontal disease occurs if plaque and tartar are not removed with daily flossing and brushing and regular professional teeth cleanings.
Other factors include:
- Dry mouth
- Crowded or crooked teeth
- Hormonal Imbalance
- High carbohydrate diet
What are the stages of periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease starts as a mild infection that is relatively undetectable. Click here for more info. With time, the disease advances and becomes apparent and dangerous. Read on to learn about the four stages of gum disease:
Stage 1: Gingivitis
If plaque is left to accumulate at the base of the teeth, it will soon make its way into the gum pockets (gingival sulcus). The bacteria in the plaque start to infect the gum. Read more here. At this stage, the mild symptoms are:
- Bleeding when flossing
- Occasional bad breath
- Swollen gums
A dentist is the best bet when trying to catch gum disease in its early stages. The first stage is the only stage that is reversible through diet and good oral hygiene.
Stages 2: Slight Periodontal Disease
The disease becomes more noticeable and, unfortunately, non-reversible. The infection goes deeper into the gums and begins its bone-destroying process. Bacteria start their way into the bloodstream, putting a strain on a patient’s immune system. Symptoms at this stage are:
- Bleeding gums during brushing and flossing
- Bad breath that surprisingly worsens
- Gum pockets as deep as 4-5 mm
- Red, swollen, and squishy gums
Stage 3: Moderate Periodontal Disease
Stage 3 symptoms are the same as stage two, but the gaps between gums and teeth are more significant at six to seven millimeters. Teeth cleaning becomes extremely difficult and allows for even more bacteria to attack your bones and your immune system.
A periodontist will intervene by removing plaque, bacteria, and infected tissue in a procedure known as scaling and root planing to prevent further damage.
Stage 4: Advanced periodontal disease
The final stage holds significant damage, such as bone and tooth loss. The damaged teeth might require removal. Stage 4 signs and symptoms are:
- Wobbly, gapped teeth
- Severe halitosis
- Damaged gums that ooze pus
- Cold sensitivity
- Further loosening of teeth
- Painful chewing
A periodontist will treat the patient by removing the infection with laser therapy to clean the deep bacteria-filled pockets. Antibiotics are prescribed to fight systemic disease.
Get regular checkups today!
Gum disease only starts to cause discomfort when it becomes severe. Scheduling regular checkups and professional cleanings and practicing good oral hygiene habits can halt periodontal disease progression.