Periodontitis or gum disease is a progressive condition that will damage your oral soft tissue, jawbone, and the roots of your teeth. If periodontitis goes untreated, the roots of your teeth decay and lead to tooth loss. Once gum disease sets in, the damage is hard to correct, but you can stop the progression of gum disease and prevent further damage by seeking treatment. But how do you know if you have gum disease?
Gum disease might begin with mild symptoms but, if left untreated, can develop into a severe condition. There are four stages of periodontitis or gum disease, progressing from mild to severe symptoms:
The first stage of periodontitis is gingivitis. You might have gingivitis if your gums bleed when brushing your teeth, become inflamed, and appear abnormally red.
During the second stage of gum disease, your jawbone begins to lose mass and shrink. The resorption is slight, and you may not notice any additional symptoms.
In the third stage of gum disease, the jawbone continues to shrink, and gum tissue also begins to recede. In moderate periodontitis, jawbone resorption destroys supporting structures for your teeth, causing teeth to loosen.
The fourth stage of gum disease is the most advanced, and patients often seek treatment for severe symptoms. Jawbone resorption causes teeth to become noticeably loose. Most patients have significant pain when chewing and biting food. Stage four of gum disease often requires extensive dental and periodontal care to correct the damage caused by gum disease.
Gum disease is usually the result of poor oral hygiene that leads to excessive plaque, progressive tooth decay, and other oral health conditions. The most common gum disease symptoms include:
Your dentist can diagnose and treat gum disease but might refer severe cases to a periodontal specialist. Dentists diagnose gum disease by examining your oral cavity for signs of excessive tartar or plaque buildup and measuring the depth of the pockets between your gum line and tooth. A patient with good oral health will have pockets with a depth of one to three millimeters. Periodontitis is evident if the pockets are greater than four millimeters in depth. X-ray scans will help your dentist determine if bone loss has occurred and the best course of treatment.
You can work to prevent gum disease by adopting a daily routine that includes proper dental hygiene. Your oral hygiene routine should include flossing once, brushing twice, and rinsing with fluoridated mouthwash twice daily. Begin your practice by flossing between each tooth, pulling the floss into a “C” shape. After flossing, brush your teeth for at least two minutes, scrubbing your tooth crowns and gum line at a 45-degree angle to the bristle head. When you finish brushing, swish fluoridated mouthwash for at least thirty seconds.
The primary goal of treatment for gum disease is to clean the deep pockets between your gum line and teeth. When the pockets get deeper than three millimeters, it is almost impossible to thoroughly clean with your toothbrush. Dental hygienists, periodontists, or dentists use special tools to clean the areas you can’t reach with floss and a toothbrush. Non-surgical treatments for gum disease include:
Scaling removes hard tarter under your gums using an ultrasonic device or laser. Root planing reduces the surface area available for bacteria to grow on the surface of your roots by smoothing down rough spots. Planing the roots discourages tartar, plaque, and bacteria from latching onto the roots beneath your gum line. Topical or oral antibiotics accompany most gum disease treatments to help control infection and inflammation from bacteria. Surgery might be necessary to correct severe cases of gum disease and restore your natural oral function, including:
You can stop the progression of periodontitis by seeking out treatment, so talk with your dentist to determine the best treatment in your case. The sooner you address the early onset of gum disease, the better. Call our office to schedule your consultation and stop gum disease from causing any more damage to your health.
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