You may be wondering why occasionally your gums are red and swollen, or your breath is bad. Maybe you’re just interested in improving your dental health and want to be more aware for your next appointment. Learn about the four stages of gum disease you may be overlooking when thinking of your comprehensive oral health needs.
Try not to worry if your dentist recently diagnosed you with gingivitis. There is still hope for a full recovery and you can take action to prevent the condition from worsening. The primary symptoms of gingivitis include red or swollen gums that cause discomfort while brushing and flossing. You may also notice nasty breath on occasion. Gingivitis is typically caused by the buildup of bacteria on our teeth and along the gum line. The most common treatment is increased brushing and flossing in addition to more frequent dentist appointments. Be prepared to visit the dentist every 3 months for deep cleanings and professional attention instead of the usual semi-annual checkups.
EARLY-STAGE PERIODONTAL DISEASE
Unfortunately, if you hear “periodontal disease” or “periodontitis” in your next dentist appointment, you may be in jeopardy of more serious effects. This means an infection has spread beneath your gums allowing harmful bacteria to slowly destroy the bone holding your teeth in place. Slight periodontal disease is the next step in the development of gum disease (or periodontal disease). This may lead to redness and swelling of the gums, foul breath, and recurrent bleeding during brushing and flossing. It can be concerning any time our gums bleed while flossing, but it isn’t always a sign of gum disease and may simply be from inadequate dental hygiene. Also, early-stage periodontal disease can’t be completely reversed, but your dentist can develop a treatment plan to prevent it from getting worse.
MODERATE PERIODONTAL DISEASE
Moderate periodontal disease can also be managed by your dentist but involves more advanced treatment. Your dentist will need to get rid of plaque from below the gum line (this same treatment may also be used with early-stage periodontal disease) in order to help correct the condition. Since your gums are slowly detaching from your teeth at this stage, surgery can reshape your gums and close the pockets between your gums and teeth to reduce plaque buildup. This may sound intimidating, but don’t worry too much! With excellent self-care and one of our skilled oral hygienists at your side, you can still prevent this ailment from worsening.
ADVANCED PERIODONTAL DISEASE
The final stage of periodontitis creates the most large-scale impact on your oral health. Most of the time dentists will use surgery to prevent tooth loss. Flap surgery is common for this stage and involves cleaning the actual roots of your teeth by scrubbing behind your gums. Your dentist may also smooth or reshape your weakened bone to prevent bacteria from accumulating.
However, keep in mind all of us are in control of our dental health. Occasionally genetic conditions can weaken our immune system and harm our gums and teeth, worsening periodontitis, but usually, we can prevent acute conditions like this from progressing by practicing careful dental health habits.
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