Periodontal disease is plaque that affects millions of Americans each year. It is estimated that 75% of the population has contracted some form of gum disease. This is a cause for concern because not only does gum disease affect your oral health, but your overall health. When left untreated, gum disease can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, pancreatic cancer, and low birth weight in offspring. For this reason it is important to recognize gum disease in the early stages and seek treatment as soon as possible.
There are three stages of periodontal disease. These stages are:
Stage 1: Gingivitis
This is the earliest stage of gum disease. It is caused by a buildup of plaque around the gum line that causes inflammation. This buildup of plaque can trap bacteria that cause gum disease. Patients who are affected by gingivitis will display red and swollen gum. Bleeding may occur during brushing and flossing. During this stage, however, gum disease can still be reversed.
Stage 2: Periodontitis
When left untreated, gingivitis soon becomes periodontitis. By this point, the bone and fibers that hold the tooth in place have become irreversibly damaged. Pockets will start to form in the gums that trap food, plaque, and bacteria. As your gums deteriorate, gaps between the teeth and gum line will form. At this stage of gum disease, there is a danger of tooth loss.
In order to avoid gum disease and the risks it imposes on your health, it is important to keep up with your daily brushing and flossing ritual. This is the only way to keep your teeth and gums free of disease causing bacteria. By maintaining a consistent routine and scheduling regular checkups, you can prevent periodontal disease.
Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis
During the final stage of periodontal disease, permanent, irreversible damage has been done to the teeth, connective tissues, and supporting bone mass. The pockets in the gum line have become much deeper and the teeth have begun to shift or loosen. At this point, major treatment is needed to prevent tooth loss.