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Stages of Gum Disease: The Progression of a Problem

By Mike Meek, DDS on July 22, 2017

The stages of gum diseaseGum disease can lead to a number of problems that affect the health of your smile as well as its beauty. The team at our Austin restorative dentistry practice has plenty of ways to bring gum disease under control, and we'll be sure to address the effects on the gum tissue as well as your teeth and other affected parts of the mouth.

Gum disease doesn't happen all at once. There are different stages to the condition. Let's take a moment to cover the basics and consider how gum disease progresses from stage to stage.

About Gum Disease

Gum disease refers to the bacterial infection of the gum tissue. When gum disease occurs, it causes inflammation of the gums; left untreated, it can lead to a number of different issues that impact your dental health and general wellness.

Gum disease can be caused by a wide variety of things, though it is most commonly the result of poor dental hygiene and use of tobacco products. Some people may be genetically more likely to develop gum disease than others, so keep that in mind.

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and occurs often as the result of poor oral hygiene. The most common signs and symptoms of gingivitis include the following:

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Changes in the color of the gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Gum irritation
  • Tender gums
  • Bad breath

Treating gingivitis will typically involve the use of antiseptic rinses as well as improved oral hygiene on the part of the patient.

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is the next stage of gum disease. It develops if gingivitis is not dealt with fully or properly.

In addition to worsening of the symptoms noted above, patients will usually suffer from gum recession during this stage of gum disease. This means the peeling away of the gumline from around a tooth. This leads to tooth sensitivity (particularly to hot and cold) as well as an increased risk of loose or wiggly teeth. Teeth may start to become misaligned at this point, with changes in position and spacing.

Treating periodontitis will generally involve more aggressive use of antiseptic items as well as deep cleaning around the gumline to help address potential tooth decay beneath the gums. Soft tissue grafting may be recommended to help reverse the effects of gum recession.

Advanced Periodontitis

Advanced periodontitis is the most serious stage of gum disease. By this point, teeth will have often shifted out of place significantly. Some people will suffer from tooth loss as well. In addition to the severe inflammation of the gums, it's likely the infection will have spread to other parts of the mouth.

Treating advanced periodontitis will often require aggressive use of antiseptic items in addition to the use of antibiotic drugs to bring the infection under control. A number of restorative dentistry procedures will be used to remove the compromised gum tissue and rebuild the gumline.

Tips for Preventing Gum Disease

To prevent gum disease, consider the following common sense tips:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day (ideally after every meal)
  • Floss your teeth at least once a night (ideally after every meal)
  • Avoid smoking and the use of tobacco products
  • Stay hydrated with water to keep your mouth moist
  • Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and routine cleanings

Contact 38th Street Dental

For more information about treating gum disease and helping you have the healthiest smile possible, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. We will help you have the healthiest smile possible.

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1500 W 38th St
Ste 56
Austin, TX 78731

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