You probably know that gingivitis is a gum disease that’s bad for your overall mouth health. But what you may not know what happens when you don’t treat it. Gingivitis can become a more advanced form of periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease can cause tooth loss, and it can be hard and uncomfortable to deal with if it isn’t treated. Periodontal disease can take on many forms, and can affect patients of all ages as well.
The good news is, taking preventative action during one of the early periodontal disease stages can mean you miss out on the worst of the symptoms. Below, we’re breaking them down so that you can know when to act and what to expect as things advance.
Gingivitis: the Earliest of the Periodontal Disease Stages
One of the most common symptoms of gingivitis is inflamed gums. Infected gums will turn red, become swollen and bleed easily. It is caused by a buildup of plaque, although certain lifestyle factors can contribute to it as well. Gingivitis is also the earliest stage of periodontal disease, and the stage when it is most easily treated.
Adopting the following oral health habits can make a big difference in fighting off gingivitis:
- Using an antibacterial toothpaste to stop plaque buildup
- Brushing your teeth for two minutes, twice a day
- Switching to an electric toothbrush for a more thorough cleaning
- Using an antibacterial mouthwash to fight plaque in hard-to-reach places
- Flossing daily to remove the food particles that plaque feeds off of
Treating gingivitis as soon as you notice the symptoms will prevent it from advancing to any of the other periodontal disease stages. Because bone and connective tissue have not yet been affected, any damage that has been done can still be reversed.
Stage Two: Early Periodontitis
Following gingivitis, the next of the periodontal disease stages that can occur is early periodontitis. If you let things get to this point it could be dangerous. This is when the bone and the fibers that hold your teeth in place in your mouth can be irreversibly damaged.
There are several telling symptoms that may mean you’ve reached this stage of periodontal disease:
- Swollen gums that can appear bright red or purplish in color
- Gums that feel tender to the touch and bleed easily
- Gums that pull away from your teeth, causing teeth to look larger than usual
- Spaces developing between your teeth that weren’t there before
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- A painful feeling when you chew
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms or notice anything else unusual, you should consult your dental professional about whether treatment is required.
Treatment at the earliest of the periodontal disease stages can include both home remedies and non-surgical options from your dentist. You should definitely plan to overhaul your at-home oral hygiene routine, and may also want to see your dentist for in-depth cleanings on a regular basis.
Stage Three: Moderate Periodontitis
Continuing to ignore the symptoms of early periodontitis can cause things to progress to the moderate stage of the disease. This is when moderate levels of bone loss can happen.
The symptoms include all those you would see at the earlier stages of periodontal disease. Those dealing with moderate periodontitis could also notice bleeding in the infected area, the development of pus between teeth and loose teeth caused by the gums pulling away and teeth losing their support system.
It is also possible that this stage that the oral infections impacting your mouth health can become a risk to your overall health. The infections can get into your bloodstream, which could cause an inflammatory response throughout your body.
To treat this more developed stage of periodontal disease, patients will need to see their dentist so they can have the infected areas cleaned and sanitized. You should schedule regular checkups with your dentist based on his or her recommendation to make sure that your gums are healing and that new bacteria isn’t threatening further infection.
Stage Four: Advanced Periodontitis
At the most advanced stage of periodontitis, the gums are dealing with severe infection that results in the actual loss of bone and of the periodontal tissue.
Symptoms at this stage include:
- Chronic and offensive bad breath
- Swollen gums that bleed easily and often
- Severe receding gums
- An intense amount of pain when chewing
- Deep periodontal pockets
- Teeth that are loose and misaligned
When someone reaches this stage of periodontal disease, it may become necessary for a dentist to remove teeth due to how much the gums have regressed. Urgent care may be required for this process, and to prevent the infection from spreading any further.
Types of Periodontal Disease
Just like there are several stages of periodontal disease, there are also different types of the disease.
Chronic periodontitis is most common and is caused by a buildup of plaque. It typically affects adults but can impact children as well.
Aggressive periodontitis begins in childhood or young adulthood. It progresses rapidly if left untreated, but fortunately only impacts a small number of people.
Necrotizing periodontal disease causes the death of gum tissue and tooth ligaments and results in severe infection. It is rarer, and generally only occurs in people who have an already suppressed immune system or are struggling with malnutrition.
Ready to Start Fighting?
The best time to start fighting periodontal disease is before the symptoms even begin. Practicing good oral hygiene at home is the right place to start, but you also should consult with your dentist to schedule checkups. Plaque is impossible to remove permanently, so regular teeth cleaning appointments are necessary as well.
A buildup of plaque can advance from gingivitis through the more severe periodontal disease stages quickly, causing major damage to your health along the way. Being aware of the symptoms and staying on top of your dentist visits can help you prevent things progressing from bad to worse.
For more information on periodontal disease or oral hygiene, please feel to contact us at anytime, or book an appointment for your next visit.