To reduce the risks of gum disease, maintain good oral health at home and see your dentist and periodontist regularly.
But also learn to recognize the symptoms of gum disease stage by stage.
Stage One: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is considered by many experts to really be "pre" gum disease. It begins when plaque bacteria colonize your gums and teeth, forming thin, sticky "biofilms" that can fester for months of years.
Eventually, the plaque works its way into the space between your gum line and tooth root, which is called the "sulcus." At this point, a mild infection may begin.
- Occasional bad breath.
- Slight redness and/or swelling of the gums.
- Bleeding of the gums when you floss.
- Bacterial pockets around teeth 2 to 4 mm deep.
Stages Two & Three: Slight to Moderate Periodontal Disease
Although there are two stages here, the difference between them is gradual and less pronounced, so we'll address them together.
As periodontal (gum) disease proper persists past gingivitis, original symptoms tend to "go silent" for a time, with very few signs and symptoms. Eventually, however, you'll notice increased gum redness, bleeding when flossing/brushing, and worse and more persistent bad breath.
With slight gum disease, bacterial pockets around and between teeth deepen to 4 to 5 mm; with moderate gum disease, they reach 6 to 7 mm.
Also, by the time you reach the "moderate" level, bone loss begins and infection intensifies - but there won't be that much pain. And plaque bacteria will regularly be getting into your bloodstream and compromising your immune health.
The two stages between pre and advanced gum disease are very dangerous because of the relative "stealth" with which they proceed. A periodontal check up may reveal you need root scaling and planing or another form of periodontal treatment.
Stage Four: Advanced Periodontal Disease
As one enters the final stage of periodontal disease, bone loss around the base of teeth becomes a major problem, and teeth may begin to loosen. Tooth loss is now a very real danger if the disease is left untreated.
Symptoms of stage four include:
- Loose or weak teeth.
- Teeth are hyper-sensitive to cold and/or hot.
- Tooth roots may be exposed at points.
- Gums are very red and swollen.
- Gums bleed easily, even when not brushing and flossing.
- It is painful to chew food or even to talk.
- Pus or other fluids may ooze out of gums.
- You have halitosis (chronic bad breath.)
If you are concerned about the health of your teeth and gums, feel free to contact periodontist Dr. Raymond A. Kenzik in Ormond Beach, FL, for expert assistance.