Do you know if you have gum disease?
Odds are you do.
In fact, 3 out of 4 people will get gum disease in their lifetime. The good news is most people only experience the disease in its most premature form.
While gum disease is reversible in its earliest stage, it can’t be cured once the infection spreads and the disease advances. If left untreated, gum disease can cause tooth loss, serious infection and even bone damage.
Since this condition is extremely common, it’s important to understand the warning signs and know what to do if you exhibit symptoms.
After reading this article, you will know…
- What gum disease actually is.
- The 3 main stages of gum disease.
- Warning signs you should look for.
- How you can prevent gum disease from happening to you.
- How to treat gum disease and keep it from progressing.
And much more.
First, let’s take a look at what gum disease really is.
Table of Contents
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a common infection in the tissues that line the mouth, otherwise known as the gums. Since the gums support your teeth and keep them in place, gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss. When left untreated, it can also cause serious infection and bone damage.
Are you exhibiting signs of gum disease? Let’s find out. Read on to learn the 3 main stages of gum disease.
The 3 Main Stages of Gum Disease
As you now know, gum disease presents itself in 3 main stages. If left untreated, it gradually becomes more serious over time. Read on to find out how it forms, what it can progress to, and what could happen to you if you don’t treat it.
Gum Disease Stage #1: Gingivitis
The first and most common stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. You’ve probably heard of gingivitis before — it makes an appearance in almost every TV commercial for toothpaste.
But, what exactly is gingivitis and how does it affect you?
Gingivitis results when plaque builds up around the gums, causing inflammation. During this preliminary phase, gums swell and bleed.
If you are experiencing gingivitis, the good news for you is that it doesn’t have to be permanent. This is the only stage of gum disease that you can reverse. Sometimes all you need to do is practice proper oral care, which includes regular brushing and flossing.
At times, gingivitis presents itself subtly. It may not be painful or apparent to you at all. Because of this, it’s important to visit the dentist every 6-12 months to make sure your gums are in good health.
Gum Disease Stage #2: Periodontitis
As gingivitis grows in severity, it advances to early periodontal disease. Periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis, is an infection in the mouth that threatens the gums, the jawbone, and other surrounding bones.
During this phase, even more, plaque accumulates. This causes gum recession, which puts your teeth at risk of falling out.
To accommodate all the plaque buildup, gums may even develop small pockets to store the bacteria. At this point, the surrounding bones in your mouth become jeopardized.
Damage at this stage is irreversible, but your dentist will give helpful tips to keep the disease from progressing even further.
Gum Disease Stage #3: Advanced Periodontal Disease
At the most serious phase of gum disease, you run the risk of losing your teeth and diminishing the bones and fibers that support them. This is often the most painful and uncomfortable stage of gum disease.
Advanced periodontal disease can result in…
- Persistent bad breath
- Severe toothaches
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
- Bone loss
During this stage, the plaque pockets that formed underneath the gums increase in size. Gum recession grows in intensity. Teeth may become loose and fall out on their own.
People with advanced periodontal disease also report a persistent bad taste in their mouth along with pain while eating.
If you reach this stage of gum disease, you might need to have compromised teeth extracted. Reach out to your dentist to determine the best treatment plan for you.
Did you know… chronically bad breath could be a sign of advanced periodontal disease. See a dentist if you think your bad breath might be part of a bigger problem.
The Warning Signs of Gum Disease
So, how can you tell if you have gum disease?
Depending on the severity of the case, gum disease presents itself in different ways. If you have gingivitis, you’re probably experiencing some inflammation and occasional bleeding around the gumline.
If your case is more advanced, you could lose teeth or even bone mass.
But in many cases, gum disease is not painful, and you might not even know you have it. That’s why it’s important to know what to look for when checking your gums.
Look out for these warning signs…
- Bad breath
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding while brushing
- Loose teeth or tooth loss
- Pain in your teeth, gums and surrounding bones
Now that you know what to look for, let’s talk about how you can keep gum disease from affecting you and your teeth.
How You Can Prevent Gum Disease from Happening To You
Whether you already have gum disease or if you just want to keep it from developing, prevention is possible. Remember you can even reverse gum disease if you catch it in its earliest stage.
To reverse it or keep it from developing, brush your teeth 2-3 times per day. For even more protection, it’s best to brush after eating foods in high sugar since these are the culprits that cause plaque. Also, remember to replace your toothbrush on a regular basis.
In addition to brushing, be sure to floss on a regular basis. This will further break down plaque, thus protecting your gums from buildup. Dentists usually recommend flossing once per day.
While at-home oral care is a great preventative method, it’s also extremely important to see a dentist on a regular basis. Dental professionals have special tools that get into the deep crevices your toothbrush can’t get to.
Depending on your teeth, it’s recommended to see a dental professional every 6-12 months.
During your visit, your dentist will evaluate your teeth, clean them thoroughly, and provide you with helpful pointers to keep them healthy for the years to come.
Stop Bleeding Gum Disease Before It’s Too Late
As a reminder, gum disease affects 75% of people. Even if you aren’t experiencing pain, you could still be suffering from gum disease.
Ready to protect your gums and keep your mouth healthy?
The dental experts at Dr. Derek J. Chang’s Family Dentistry will help you…
- Eliminate harmful plaque around the gums
- Keep early signs of gum disease from progressing
- Maintain a vibrant smile free of infection and disease
And much, much more.
Dr. Chang’s Family Dentistry serves Corpus Christi, Texas and the surrounding areas. Click here or call 361-992-7631 to schedule your next dental appointment right now.