Today we are here to discuss the stages of periodontal disease, their symptoms & treatment options. Let’s start!
Oral health and hygiene are important for many reasons. Your mouth is the gateway to the health of the rest of your body. It’s how you take in nourishment and water, and it needs to be able to do its job well.
However, periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis or gum disease, can get in the way of that. As it advances, you might experience pain, bleeding gums, and loose teeth. Eventually, you might lose teeth as your jawbone is affected. This is why knowing the signs and symptoms of periodontal disease and what to do about them is so important.
1st Stage: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the mildest stage of periodontal disease and the only stage that can be reversed. If caught in this first stage, you can completely heal the condition and have a healthy mouth again.
Signs to look for include occasional bad breath, swelling and redness of the gums, and bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth. Good oral hygiene, regular dental exams, and scheduling an appointment if you notice the signs of gingivitis can all help you catch it early and reverse it.
2nd Stage: Mild Periodontal Disease
This stage is more advanced than gingivitis and is the “point of no return.” While you can manage periodontal disease at this point, you can no longer reverse it. At this point, the infection has spread to the bone and is now beginning to destroy bone.
Signs to look for include increased swelling and redness of the gum, more frequent bad breath, and more bleeding during flossing or brushing. Additionally, when your dentist probes, they’ll find pockets where the gum doesn’t attach to the tooth between four and five millimeters deep. You’ll need to go beyond basic oral hygiene at this point, possibly using medicinal mouthwashes and toothpastes and having more frequent dental appointments.
3rd Stage: Moderate Periodontal Disease
This stage is still manageable but is worse than the previous stage. The damage being done now goes beyond just the teeth and bones of your jaw. The disease can now affect your bloodstream and immune system, leaving you open to potentially serious health conditions beyond your mouth.
The signs of this stage are similar to those in the second stage but the probing depths increase to six to seven millimeters deep. Left untreated, this stage will start to have increased gum sensitivity, increased bleeding, and shifting teeth due to bone and tooth loss.
Treatment for this stage is scaling and root planing, which are forms of deep cleaning that remove deep deposits of bacteria from beneath the gums. This can help halt the progression when combined with increased oral hygiene at home but will still not reverse the disease.
4th Stage: Advanced Periodontal Disease
This is the final stage of periodontal disease. In this stage, you’ll likely see severe bone loss, red and swollen gums that ooze pus, cold sensitivity, severe bad breath, painful chewing, and further loosening of the teeth. Those teeth will also begin to fall out.
If left untreated, you’ll begin to see spaces or gaps between teeth, receding gums, and ultimately the need for dentures. Additionally, the bacteria causing the disease can wreak havoc on the rest of your health, including your heart health.
At this point, the only treatment for advanced periodontal disease is periodontal surgery or laser therapy to clean out the pockets where the bacteria is hiding. Your dentist may be able to do this in their office or they may need to refer you to a specialist.
You will need to work with your dentist to watch out for signs of periodontal disease. This is especially true if you are at an increased risk of it due to age, crowded teeth, smoking, certain medications, or other factors. Talk to your dentist about your lifestyle and your medical history so that they can be aware of anything that puts you at higher risk. Regular dental visits and a good relationship with your dentist can help you catch and reverse periodontal disease early.
The best way to avoid the three more advanced stages of periodontal disease is to have good oral hygiene and avoid getting it in the first place. But catching it in the earliest stage, gingivitis, is the next best option. In both cases, regular visits to your dentist can help you stay on top of things so you never have to worry about irreversible damage to your oral or overall health.
Anita is a freelance writer from Denver, CO. She studied at Colorado State University, and now writes articles about health, business, family and finance. A mother of two, she enjoys traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. You can follow her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.