Periodontal disease is an oral infection characterized by red, swollen, tender gums. According to the CDC, nearly half of all Americans aged 30 or older have some form of gum disease. Left untreated, this condition can result in a myriad of oral health problems, including bad breath, mobility, and even tooth loss. Gum disease has even been linked to a number of overall health concerns, including heart disease, stroke, dementia, diabetes, and more.
Understanding the stages of gum disease can help you spot problems early on, when they are easily treatable. Here, Dr. Russell Cureton explores periodontal disease and explains what treatments are necessary to keep your oral and overall health in check.
Stage One: Gingivitis
The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis. Symptoms include red, tender, or puffy gums. They may also bleed when you brush or floss. If you notice any of these warning signs, schedule a visit with your dentist right away.
At this stage, the infection has only affected the gum tissue. Therefore, it can typically be treated – and even reversed – with a routine dental cleaning. However, proper oral hygiene must be practiced at home as well. During an appointment at our practice, we can demonstrate helpful brushing and flossing techniques to keep your oral health in top-notch condition.
Stage Two: Periodontitis
If gingivitis is not treated, the condition will progress into periodontitis. At this stage, the infection travels down below the gums and starts to erode the supporting jawbone. As a result, periodontal pockets form around the teeth. This encourages more plaque, tartar, and bacteria to accumulate in hard-to-reach areas. In addition to red, swollen, or bleeding gums, you may also notice that the gum tissue begins to pull away from the teeth. This is referred to as gum recession, and it is detrimental to your oral health.
When gum disease has advanced to this stage, your dentist will often recommend scaling and root planing. This procedure is a deep dental cleaning which flushes bacteria and debris out from beneath the gums. Scaling and root planing is similar to a routine dental cleaning, but the gums are numbed to keep you comfortable. Once the bacteria has been eliminated, the root surfaces are smoothed to discourage further plaque accumulation.
Stage Three: Advanced Periodontitis
If gum disease remains untreated, advanced periodontitis can develop. At this late stage, the teeth may become loose and fall out. You may also notice visible pus or infection at the gum line. Patients often notice a bad taste as well as painful or tender gums.
Treating Advanced Periodontitis
When gum disease is this advanced, scaling and root planing will not suffice. Laser gum treatment or traditional gum surgery will be necessary to clean out the infection. During a consultation at our Salinas, CA, practice, Dr. Cureton will discuss viable treatment options with you.
Maintaining Periodontal Health
It’s important to treat gum disease as soon as possible. Not only is it better for your oral health, but it’s more affordable when addressed in the early stages.
Once you have undergone treatment, it’s essential to keep your oral health in optimal condition to prevent reinfection. In addition to practicing impeccable oral hygiene at home, patients will need to undergo routine cleanings at intervals determined by Dr. Cureton. Many individuals who are prone to gum disease can maintain optimal oral health with cleanings every three to four months.
Schedule a Consultation Today
If you have symptoms of gum disease, such as red, bleeding, tender gums, schedule a consultation at our practice today. You can contact us online anytime or give us a call at (831) 449-8363.