Healthy Mouth Healthy Body?

Inflammation and Gum Disease

What are the Stages of Gum Disease?

Dental professionals often refer to the progression of gum disease by dividing the condition into three major stages:

  • Gingivitis: This is the earliest stage of gum disease, an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup at the gumline. If daily brushing and flossing do not remove the plaque, it produces toxins that can irritate the gum tissue, causing gingivitis. You may notice some bleeding during brushing and flossing. At this early stage in gum disease, damage can be reversed, since the bone and connective tissue that hold the teeth in place are not yet affected.
  • Early periodontitis: At this stage, the supporting bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place are irreversibly damaged. Your gums may begin to form pockets below the gumline, which trap food and plaque. Proper dental treatment and improved home care can usually help prevent further damage.
  • Advanced periodontitis: In this final stage of gum disease, the fibers and bone supporting your teeth are destroyed, which can cause your teeth to shift or loosen. This can affect your bite and, if aggressive treatment can't save them, teeth may need to be removed.

How Do I Know if I Have Gum Disease?
Gum disease can occur at any age, but it is most common among adults. If detected in its early stages, gum disease can be reversed so see your dentist if you notice any of the following symptoms:

  • Gums that are red, puffy or swollen, or tender
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Teeth that look longer because your gums have receded
  • Gums that have separated, or pulled away from your teeth, creating a pocket
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Pus coming from between your teeth and gums
  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

How is Gum Disease Prevented and Treated?
You can help prevent gingivitis by:

  • Brushing teeth twice a day to help prevent cavities
  • Daily flossing to clean in between teeth where brushing cannot reach
  • Eating correctly to ensure proper nutrition
  • Avoiding cigarettes and other forms of tobacco

Periodontitis can only be treated by a dental professional. Treatment is typically aimed at:

  • Eliminating the plaque and bacteria that cause periodontitis
  • Slowing the progression of periodontitis

Dental professionals may use a procedure called scaling to loosen and remove the plaque and bacteria that are present in the pockets caused by periodontitis. Following scaling or professional cleaning, it is important for the patient to maintain good oral health by utilizing the same regimen followed to help prevent gingivitis.

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