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What are the Stages of Gum Disease?
Posted on 7/5/2016 by Scholes Periodontics & Implants
You have probably heard the lecture a thousand times - keep your teeth and gums in good shape. We all know that brushing and flossing keep the teeth clean and prevent cavities. How do you keep your gums in shape and what does it mean if you don't? Brushing isn't only good for your teeth; it keeps food from turning into plaque at your gum line causing deterioration of the gums. Flossing also gets those food particles from between the teeth and down by the gum line for the same reason. Plaque will cause deterioration of the gums, leading to gum disease.
What is the First Stage of Gum Disease?
Your dentist may point out redness to your gums near the tooth; this is called gingivitis and is the first stage of gum disease. You'll notice an inflammation around the tooth and your teeth will bleed during brushing or flossing. This inflammation is caused by bacteria build up. At this stage of gum disease, the tooth and bone structures of your mouth are still intact. The damage, so far, is reversible.
At this point, we would instruct you on the correct way to keep the areas of your teeth clean. Maybe you aren't brushing long enough; maybe you 'forget' to floss. These two things alone can eliminate the gingivitis problem. The plaque that is already built up on your teeth can only be removed by us or your general dentist. During your exam we will give your teeth a professional cleaning to remove this plaque. If a deeper cleaning is necessary, scaling may be done. Scaling takes plaque away from under the gum line. It normally is done under local anesthesia.
What is the Second Stage of Gum Disease?
The second stage of gum disease is called periodontitis. This is when gum disease really takes a toll on your teeth and bone structure of the mouth. Those with periodontitis will have pockets that form in the gums around the tooth. Bacteria will build up in these pockets and begin to attack the gum tissue and the bone structure that hold the teeth in place. Tooth loss happens in this second stage of gum disease.
This second stage means a more aggressive treatment plan to help stop future tooth loss. There are some medications that can be prescribed to help stop bacteria growth. Depending on the stage of the gum disease, there are surgical procedures that can be done to help repair damage. Pocket reduction or flap surgery can be performed to reduce those pockets around the teeth where bacteria hide and grow.
More advanced stages of periodontitis are treated with bone grafts or tissue grafts. These surgeries are aimed at replacing the damaged bone and tissue that hold your teeth in place. These procedures are only performed when all other options will not repair the damage.
How do you Determine if you Have Gum Disease?
During your semi-annual dental check-ups your dentist examines your teeth in several ways. While cleaning your teeth the hygienist checks for any bleeding from the gums. The hygienist will also check for any tooth movement and pockets around a tooth. Loose teeth, unless you still have baby teeth, are not normal and are a sign of gum disease; sensitivity in a tooth can also be a sign of gum disease. Bacteria in your mouth cause bad breath which is also a sign of impending gum disease.
All these signs give your doctor the information necessary to determine both stages of gum disease in your mouth and the proper measures to take to keep your mouth healthy and disease free and is when your referral to our office will come into play. If you are worried about gum disease and your risks, please call our office today to schedule an appointment!