Periodontal disease affects millions of adults worldwide and is the leading cause of tooth loss. When gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress into gum disease. Gum disease can be treated to prevent complete tooth and bone loss within the mouth, but it is important to take steps to prevent the disease altogether. If you have been told that you have gingivitis, it is crucial that you practice better oral hygiene and keep up with regular bi-annual dental appointments.

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease occurs when the inner layer of bone and gum begin to separate from the teeth. As the gums and bone pull away, small pockets form around the teeth themselves, allowing bacteria, food particles and plaque to get in there and further irritate the gums. As this bacteria irritates the gums, inflammation and infection ensue and the gums separate even more from the teeth in response to infection. If left completely untreated, tooth loss can occur and extensive procedures may be needed to correct your dentition.

What are Early Warning Signs of Gum Disease?

As with most other diseases and health disorders, warning signs are often seen prior to the full development of the disease. Gingivitis is the precursor to periodontal disease, so if you’ve been told that you have gingivitis, it is important to keep up with proper oral care habits to prevent it from progressing into gum disease. Some of the most common warning signs that you have gum disease include:

  • Foul breath (despite regular brushing)
  • Red, swollen and irritated gums
  • Bleeding gums (especially when brushing and flossing)
  • Loose teeth
  • Gum irritation and pain
  • Receding gums (teeth appear longer)

Regular bi-annual dental appointments include a periodontal examination that will check for signs of gingivitis and gum disease. During these appointments, the pockets around your teeth will be measured to see if either gingivitis or gum disease is present and you will be given information on the best course of action to correct the problem. This is why regular preventative care is so crucial in the fight against periodontal disease. If, however, you do not get into the office as often as you should, it’s important to look for these warning signs and receive care as soon as possible so that the disease is not allowed to progress any further. The health of your gums is a complete reflection of the health of your smile.

Gum Disease

There are generally three stages of periodontal disease and while two stages are irreversible, the first stage is your opportunity to reverse the condition for a healthier and brighter smile. Keeping your teeth clean and making time for regular professional dental cleanings are crucial for detecting a problem as well as preventing it from forming in the first place. Because nearly 50 percent of adults have periodontitis, it is important to take steps to care for your teeth properly.

The Stages of Gum Disease

There are three stages to gum disease and each comes with its own problems and solutions.

• Gingivitis –

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is completely reversible. By practicing better oral hygiene as well as making time for regular dental cleanings and exams, you can completely reverse gingivitis so that it does not progress into more advanced periodontal disease.

• Mild Periodontitis –

The second stage of periodontal disease involves mild periodontitis where the gums and bone around the teeth begin to separate from the teeth. This can cause bleeding and inflammation of the gums as well as infection and pain. Larger pockets begin to form around the teeth, allowing bacteria to become lodged in these areas and further irritate the gums.

• Advanced Periodontitis –

This is the third and final stage of periodontal disease and is often where the most damage is found. Ligaments have been completely destroyed due to the infection and tooth loss often occurs. Many patients with advanced periodontitis will need to have teeth pulled and a denture placed in order to correct their smile. Bone grafting may need to be performed to replace missing bone at this stage.

Can Gum Disease Be Reversed?

Gum disease can really only be reversed when it is in its first stage, more commonly known as gingivitis. If you have gingivitis, it is important to begin practicing good oral hygiene habits in order to prevent the disease from progressing. Good oral hygiene involves regular brushing, preferably with a power toothbrush, flossing daily and making time for bi-annual dental cleanings. If you currently have mild to advanced periodontitis, there are many procedures and treatment options to slow and even stop the progression of the disease. This is why regular trips to the dentist is so important, as it can help you to receive the treatment that you need to retain a full smile.