Many people think of periodontal (gum) disease as simply being an infection or inflammation in the soft tissue, but actually, this complex condition can negatively impact a patient’s entire smile, leading to serious repercussions for a person’s oral health and overall wellness. While gum disease can be effectively treated in the early stages, advanced periodontal disease, often called periodontitis, can’t be reversed. Keep reading to learn more about what you may experience in the various stages of gum disease. It’s always important to let your dentist know as soon as possible if you notice any changes in your oral health.
The Stages of Gum Disease Progression
There are four main stages of gum disease that are designated based on the severity of the patient’s symptoms. Not all patients will have all of the symptoms associated with gum disease, but knowing what warning signs to look for can help patients describe their situation in greater detail for their dentist, ensuring the most effective treatment plan.
Stage 1 – Gingivitis
This is the mildest form of gum disease. It is characterized by some irritation in the soft tissue. Patients may also notice swelling, inflammation, and redness of the gums or some bleeding when flossing or brushing teeth. In order to fully reverse gum disease, it needs to be caught in the gingivitis stage. Unfortunately, side effects are mild at this stage and often go unnoticed by patients, which is one of the many reasons why regular preventive dental checkups are so important.
Stage 2 – Early Periodontitis
While stage 2, early periodontitis, is not entirely reversible, it is still very manageable at this stage when the negative impact on a patient’s oral health is minimal. In the early stages, periodontitis damages soft tissue and weakens the supportive bone structure of the smile. A combination of in-office and at-home periodontal therapies are used to halt the progress of periodontitis and maintain optimal oral health moving forward.
Stage 3 – Moderate Periodontitis
In stage 3, moderate periodontitis, gum disease has continue to weaken supportive bone structures. Additionally, the pockets between teeth and gums have become enlarged due to the damaged gum tissue. This allows for greater amounts of bacteria and plaque to build up around teeth, increasing the severity of the condition and risk for further oral health concerns like tooth decay and dental abscess. At this stage, the disease is more likely to enter the blood stream, having a negative impact on whole body health. Again, this stage of periodontitis cannot be cured, so the goal of treatment is to reverse damage when possible and halt further progress through in-office and at-home periodontal therapy and oral health maintenance plans.
Stage 4 – Advanced Periodontitis
In the most advanced stage of periodontitis, patients are likely experiencing severe, negative consequences. Patients will see advanced gum tissue recession as the soft tissues connecting to teeth are destroyed. This gum recession combined with further weakening and destruction of supportive bone structures leads to teeth that move within the socket and potential tooth loss. Infection, sores, inflammation, bleeding, and other oral health concerns may be present as well as whole body health issues related to the unchecked infection. At this stage, treatment is essential to prevent severe side effects. In most cases, patients will need extensive in-office treatments followed by frequent maintenance appointments with advanced at-home oral hygiene routines to protect the health of their smiles. Additionally, restorative and cosmetic dentistry services may be necessary to reverse some of the more serious effects of gum disease.
Visit the McCarl Dental Group for Gum Disease Treatment
At McCarl Dental Group in Greenbelt, MD, our knowledgeable dentists offer a range of periodontal therapy options to treat gum disease, maintain optimal oral health, and avoid advanced health concerns. Whether you suspect you’re suffering from gum disease or it’s just been too long since your last visit, schedule an appointment at McCarl Dental Group in Greenbelt, MD today. We’re here to help patients get their smiles back on track.