Gum disease (also known as periodontitis) is prominent in the patients seen by a dentist. An estimated one in seven adults ages 35 to 44 has experienced gum disease at some stage, ranging from bleeding gums to advanced periodontitis. Many times, people don’t even know they have it because they aren’t aware of the signs. It is common for people who have gum disease symptoms in the early stages to experience bleeding and soreness when brushing and flossing. They may think the symptoms are from a temporary irritation or an infection that will get better on its own. However, gum disease does not clear up without treatment.

At Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry, we are both knowledgeable and experienced in treating patients who have periodontal disease in every stage. In this post, to educate and inform our readership, we cover the 5 stages of gum disease.

Periodontal Disease

Gum disease begins with bacteria that stay on the teeth for a prolonged time. The bacteria infects the tissue surrounding the tooth, which causes inflammation. Over time, the inflammation leads to periodontal disease. Bacteria builds up forming plaque and then tartar. When tartar spreads below the gum line and is not removed, the environment is just right for gum disease to start. Only a dental health professional can remove the tartar and stop the periodontal disease process.

Warning Signs of Gum Disease

These are some of the signs that can indicate that you may have gum disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Bad taste that lingers
  • Red or swollen gums
  • Tender or bleeding gums
  • Painful chewing
  • Loose teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Gums that have pulled away from your teeth
  • Any change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Any change in the fit of partial dentures

Risk Factors for Gum Disease

You may have several factors that increase your risk for periodontal disease including:

  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Stress
  • Heredity
  • Crooked teeth
  • Fillings that have become defective
  • Taking medications that cause dry mouth
  • Bridges that don’t fit properly
  • Female hormonal changes
  • Immune system deficiencies

The 5 Stages of Periodontal Disease

1.) Bleeding Gums

The earliest sign that you have periodontal disease is your gums bleeding when you brush or floss your teeth. This may not mean that you have gum disease, but it is a sign that your gums aren’t healthy. You may see evidence of blood on your toothbrush or after flossing. You may see blood when you are eating hard foods like an apple or pear. When you see blood, make an appointment to see your dental professional because you could be in the early stage of periodontal disease.

2.) Gingivitis

In the second stage of gum disease, you can see inflammation in the gums, swollen gums, and experience some pain. Your gums will bleed more than in stage 1. Gingivitis can be treated and does not have to progress to periodontal disease. By being more diligently focused on oral hygiene, brushing, and daily flossing, you may be able to prevent moving into the third stage.

3.) Early Periodontitis

In the early stage of periodontitis, inflammation of your gums extends deeper and begins to enter the supporting bone, damaging the jaw. It may not be apparent, but your gums are beginning to detach from your teeth and are forming pockets. More bacteria, plaque, and tartar begin to reside in the pockets and become even more difficult to remove. The symptoms are worse than those of gingivitis. There is more bleeding, persistent bad breath, discomfort, and pain. It is critical for you to seek the help of a dentist at this stage. At this stage, a dental professional will treat you with scaling and root planing to provide a deep cleaning procedure. A deep cleaning addresses the plaque and tartar buildup beneath the gum line in halting the progress of the disease.

4.) Moderate Periodontitis

The fourth stage of gum disease is a significant progression that exhibits noticeable damage to the bone supporting your teeth. Bacteria begin to affect the ligaments and soft tissues as well as bone. In moderate periodontitis, bone loss is more pronounced with increased pocket depth between your gums and teeth where more bacteria reside. You may have bad breath and pus around your gum line. Your teeth can begin to feel slightly loose and may shift some as the bone structure weakens. In this stage, besides scaling and root planing, the dentist may consider localized antibiotic treatment or more advanced periodontal procedures.

5.) Advanced Periodontitis

In the fifth stage of gum disease, advanced periodontitis, lasting damage occurs. Your teeth will feel increasingly loose, causing a change in your bite and discomfort. The pockets are now deeper and the bacteria in them cause chronic inflammation and abscesses. This stage of gum disease is serious and requires several different approaches. If you don’t see a dental professional, you will more than likely lose teeth. Your dentist may recommend gum grafts for receding gums or surgical procedures to access and clean deeper pockets, which will preserve your jawbone and prevent irreparable damage.  

Schedule an Appointment Today to Treat Periodontitis Disease

If you are seeing any signs of periodontal disease, contact our professional team at Sninski & Schmitt Family Dentistry right away. Our dentists are experienced in determining which stage of periodontitis you are in and how best to treat it. Gum disease isn’t something you should ignore because it will not get better on its own. Call our Holly Springs dentist office at (919) 600-6262 and our Cary, NC dentist office at 919-467-2203. Or, use our easy-to-use online form below to schedule an appointment.

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