The Stages of Gum Disease

Gum disease, although most common in adults, can occur at any age, and, fortunately,  if detected early, can be reversed.  There are three stages of gum disease; gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis.

The first stage, gingivitis, is an inflammation of the gums and is caused by plaque buildup at the gum line.  At this initial stage of gum disease, damage can be reversed.

The second stage, periodontitis, is more severe since at this stage the supporting bone and fibers around your teeth are irreversibly damaged. Dental treatment at this stage is required to prevent further damage.

In the final stage of gum disease, advanced periodontitis, the fibers and bones that support your teeth are destroyed.  Your teeth without this support can loosen or shift, which can then affect your bite.  Aggressive treatment will be needed to save your teeth.

When you have any of the following symptoms of gum disease, you should schedule a visit with your dentist:

  • Gums that are red, puffy or swollen, or tender
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Teeth that look longer because your gums have receded
  • Gums that have separated, or pulled away, from your teeth, creating a pocket
  • Pus coming from between your teeth and gums
  • Constant bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

Gum disease can be prevented by proper oral health.  Brushing your teeth twice daily and flossing once a day will keep plaque from building up on your teeth.  When plaque does build up and hardens into tartar, you will need to have a professional cleaning by a dental hygienist.

By following good dental hygiene habits and visiting your dentist twice a year for check-ups and professional cleanings, you can nip gum disease in the bud before it leads to a more a more serious condition.