What Are The Stages of Gum Disease?
It’s pretty simple, but let’s break it down. Gum disease, or periodontal disease as dentists like to call it, has two major phases: gingivitis and periodontitis. Both are preventable, but only one is reversible via good oral hygiene practices. Speaking of — are you scheduled at Lifetime Family Dental for your biannual cleaning and exam? Early detection and intervention is crucial in preventing the stages of gum disease from playing out in your mouth.
As you may recall from a previous article, half of Americans 30 and older have the advanced form or gum disease called periodontitis. That’s a whopping 64.7 million Americans. No one just wakes up with periodontitis, however. It starts with insufficient oral hygiene habits—which allow for plaque to build up and turn into tartar—causing gingivitis and then progressing into early, moderate and advanced periodontitis.
Gingivitis starts with plaque which consists mostly of food particles and bacteria that mingle in your mouth and stick to your teeth. It forms quickly and needs to be addressed daily before it turns into tartar, which requires a professional dental cleaning to remove. If plaque and tartar remain on your teeth too long, gums can become inflamed or start to bleed easily. If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to periodontitis and eventually cause tooth or bone loss.
Signs of early periodontitis include gum recession, as well as bleeding during brushing or flossing. With moderate periodontitis, your teeth begin losing bone support and become loose. If continually left untreated, gums, bones and other tissue supporting your teeth corrode and advanced periodontitis sets in. This can cause severe pain while chewing, bad breath, and likely tooth loss. Bacteria from plaque and tartar buildup can enter your bloodstream and have even been linked to respiratory disease, rheumatoid arthritis, coronary artery disease and difficulty controlling blood sugar in diabetes.
It is helpful to mention that there are factors that put individuals at a higher risk of developing periodontitis, such as tobacco or marijuana use, dry mouth, hormonal changes due to pregnancy or menopause, cancer treatment, and a number of medical conditions. If any one of these applies to you, you should consult with your dentist to ensure that you’re doing everything necessary to steer clear of gum disease.
That’s All Folks
Tooth loss and other complications are serious side effects of gum disease, but it certainly does not have to get that far. Maintaining healthy habits, such as brushing twice a day, flossing, rinsing with fluoride mouthwash and visiting Lifetime Family Dental every six months—or possibly more if you’re at a higher risk—will be your best allies in the fight against gum disease.
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