Gum disease is a common condition affecting about half of the adults in the United States. While it’s common, that doesn’t mean it is nothing to worry about. In fact, gum disease is the number one cause of bad breath, missing teeth, and tooth loss. There are four stages to gum disease, each with its own set of symptoms that worsen over time. By now, you might be wondering if you have gum disease and what you should do about it. So today on the blog, our family dentists in Sciota answer this pressing question, what are the four stages of gum disease and what do they mean?
Gum disease starts out as gingivitis, which is common in many individuals. Gingivitis leads to gums that are inflamed, red, and that bleed easily. If you have gingivitis, you may also experience gum tenderness and have an aversion to getting your teeth cleaned or flossing your teeth to avoid irritating and inflaming your gums even more. However, those treatments and home care are exactly what you need to stop gingivitis. Gingivitis develops as a result of not taking good care of your oral health, as in not seeing the dentist regularly, and not flossing and brushing often enough. If ignored, gingivitis develops into periodontitis, which has four stages.
Stage 1 – Initial
The initial stage of gum disease is nearly undetectable. You’ll likely not experience any noticeable symptoms, although a thorough dental exam will reveal the truth about your condition. Early periodontitis involves gum pockets that form and harbor oral bacteria that eventually break down the ligaments holding your teeth in their sockets. At first, the disease may only affect one or a few teeth, and a deep dental cleaning also known as a debridement can stop the disease from progressing and help you preserve your oral health.
Stage 2 – Moderate
This stage is similar to the initial stage, except that more teeth are affected, and the disease may progress by eroding your jawbone. You may notice foul-smelling breath that doesn’t go away, or gum recession that makes your teeth look longer and feel more sensitive. Unfortunately, permanent damage has been done, although treatment can still help to stop it from worsening.
Stage 3 – Severe with symptoms
At this point, you’re likely experiencing discomfort or pain. Localized swelling may be apparent, and you may have some loose teeth or abscesses that develop along your gumline. You may also experience gaps in your teeth as the existing teeth drift after losing others. Unfortunately, some teeth may not be salvageable at this point, although there is still hope for your oral health if you stop the disease. But you will most assuredly require professional dental care to manage this stage.
Stage 4 – Severe with potential for significant tooth loss
Typically, this stage requires the removal of any remaining teeth because there isn’t enough healthy jawbone to sustain the teeth that are left. Additionally, dentists typically would not recommend dental implants to replace missing teeth due to stage four periodontitis. If there isn’t enough jawbone to hold your natural teeth, implants will not be successful. Unfortunately, that may leave the patient with dentures as their only option to restore their chewing ability and smile aesthetics.
Stop my gums from bleeding in Sciota, Pennsylvania
If you experience bleeding gums or want to learn more about controlling gum disease, please contact Chestnuthill Dental by calling (570) 402-4001.