Commonly referred to as gum disease, periodontal disease is a chronic infection of the gums. As the condition progresses, it can result in tooth loss. Periodontal disease has also been linked to other severe health conditions like cardiovascular disease. There are four different stages of gum disease, with the first stage being the most treatable.
Your Guide to Periodontal Disease
This is the earliest stage of gum disease and is the easiest form to treat. It’s caused by plaque, or bacteria, that gets into the spaces between your teeth and gums that is not removed through proper teeth brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings. If you start to notice your gums are redder or more swollen than usual or they bleed more often when you floss, it’s time to see your dentist. In most cases, practicing excellent oral hygiene at home is enough to reverse the condition.
2. Slight Periodontal Disease
If you didn’t see your dentist at the first signs of gingivitis, the infection in your gums will spread. The bacteria begin attacking the bone tissue, which holds your teeth in place. The small pockets between your teeth and gums deepen, making it nearly impossible to remove plaque through brushing and flossing alone. In this stage, you may notice more redness and swelling, and more bleeding when you brush and floss. You may also notice you have bad breath no matter how often you brush, use mouthwash, or chew gum. To treat this stage of gum disease, your dentist will likely recommend a deep dental cleaning known as scaling and root planing. This removes the bacteria from beneath the gum line and smoothens the tooth roots to deter future bacterial growth.
3. Moderate Periodontal Disease
The symptoms of moderate periodontal disease are relatively the same as stage two, but more severe. Your bad breath may be even worse, or you may also notice more redness and swelling of your gums and more bleeding when you brush and floss your teeth. At this point, the bacteria aren’t just attacking your gums and bone tissues. They’re also entering your bloodstream and compromising your immune system. Most dentists recommend scaling and root planing to treat stage 3-gum disease as well.
4. Advanced Periodontal Disease
When the first three stages of gum disease are left untreated, the condition progresses. The pockets deepen, and your gums may start pulling away from your teeth. As a result, you may be more sensitive to cold and hot food and drinks. Severe bad breath and a foul taste in your mouth are also indicators of advanced periodontal disease. At this point, your teeth may feel loose and even shift, and tooth loss is possible. Laser-assisted periodontal therapy is the recommended treatment for stage four.
If you notice any of the above symptoms, contact dentists Sean W. Meitner, DDS, and Gabriela Ciornei, DDS, at Finger Lakes Periodontics and Implant Dentistry in Geneva or Pittsford NY. As experts in periodontics, they can perform treatments for every stage of periodontal disease, from deep dental cleanings to laser-assisted periodontal therapy. Call 585-248-8195 to schedule an appointment, or visit their website for more information.