Gum disease is a serious oral health issue caused by plaque and bacteria that can progress quickly if left untreated. There are different stages of gum disease, each with its own signs and symptoms. Recognizing the signs of gum disease is essential to knowing when treatment is necessary.
Dr. Timothy S. Messer provides advanced general dentistry treatments to diagnose gum disease and restore oral health. For help recognizing when gum disease treatment is necessary, it's beneficial to understand the stages of gum disease. Here, we take a closer look at the stages of gum disease in this overview from our Memphis, TN practice.
The first stage of gum disease is referred to as gingivitis. This early stage of gum disease is marked by inflammation of the gums as a result of plaque buildup along the gum line. The bacteria within plaque release toxins into the gum tissue. These toxins can irritate the gum tissue, leading to gingivitis. One of the most recognizable signs of gingivitis is bleeding when brushing or flossing.
If steps are taken as soon as gingivitis develops, damage can be reversed and gum health can be restored. In many cases, diligent brushing and flossing, along with regularly rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash, will be sufficient to treat gingivitis.
If the warning signs of gingivitis are ignored, or extra brushing and flossing fails to stop gum disease, it will progress to periodontitis and the formation of periodontal pockets. Periodontal pockets form as plaque and tartar build along the gum line. This gradually pushes the gums away from the teeth, creating a gap, or “pocket,” between the gums and teeth. The pocket grows as more food and plaque collect within it.
If left untreated, periodontal pockets may become large enough to damage the bone and fibers that support the teeth and keep them in place. Periodontitis and periodontal pockets require professional dental treatment. One of the most common treatments for periodontitis and periodontal pockets is a deep cleaning treatment called root planing and scaling.
The final, most severe stage of gum disease is advanced periodontitis. With advanced periodontitis, the bone and fibers supporting the teeth are damaged to a point that they can no longer support the teeth, resulting in loose or shifted teeth. Once the teeth become loose or shift within their sockets, other problems may occur, such as difficulty eating or tooth loss.
Once advanced periodontitis sets in, professional dental intervention is necessary to restore oral health and save the teeth, if at all possible. Treatment may include gum surgery to thoroughly clean the teeth and roots and restore gum health.
Gum disease can cause serious damage to oral health, but treatment is available. If you suspect you have gum disease and would like to learn more about your treatment options, we encourage to you schedule a consultation with Dr. Messer.
I have been to several dentists in the Memphis Area and I have finally found THE ONE!! Dr. Messer is the best dentist I have ever been to. I have complete confidence in any procedure that he performs and I can't imagine ever going to any other dentist.