New Patients (301) 508-9755

Current Patients (301) 949-5400

12900 Georgia Avenue Silver Spring, MD 20906

What Are the Stages of Gum Disease?

Gum disease, or periodontal disease as it is formally known, is a common infection that affects the gum tissue. This condition can start with mere inflammation of the gums but if left unchecked, it can progress to more severe stages where bacteria cause irreversible damage to your teeth, gums, and jawbone structure.

Understanding the Stages of Gum Disease

Gingivitis: The Initial Stage

The first stage of gum disease is gingivitis. This infection occurs when plaque builds up at the gum line. Plaque contains bacteria that produce toxins irritating the gums, leading to an immune response that results in inflammation.

You may see symptoms in the gums like redness, swelling, bleeding, or tenderness. Many people may feel self-conscious about the way puffy gums look in their smiles. Despite these alarming signs and potential risks associated with gingivitis, there is good news – this stage of gum disease is reversible. A professional cleaning at your dentist’s office, coupled with daily brushing and flossing, can eliminate this infection effectively.

However, since gum diseases like gingivitis often present without pain, you might not even know you have it until more serious symptoms manifest themselves. Therefore, regular dental checkups, in addition to maintaining good oral hygiene practices at home, become crucial preventive measures against advancing stages of periodontal disease.

Periodontitis: The Advanced Stage

Untreated or unmanaged gingivitis can progress into periodontitis. This refers to a more severe form of gum disease that can damage your gum tissue, teeth, and jawbone. Symptoms include soreness in the gum tissue, chronic bad breath, receding gums, and loose teeth. As bacteria continue to wreak havoc on your smile unchecked, you face a risk of tooth loss without treatment from your dentist.

How to Treat Gum Disease

As mentioned, a dentist can treat gum disease in its early stages with thorough cleaning techniques that wash away the excess bacteria from the gum pockets. Your dentist will need to use their precise tools to access this bacterial build-up. But at-home oral hygiene efforts remain crucial to keeping this infection at bay.

Treating advanced gum disease may require scaling and root planing therapies or flap surgery. These treatments can reduce the size of gum pockets to prevent bacteria accrual and regenerate lost tissue.

Preventive Periodontal Care

You can reduce your risk of gum disease by getting rid of plaque that naturally accrues on your teeth. This will entail adhering to good oral hygiene practices, including brushing your teeth, flossing, and attending routine dental check-ups. If you know more about the symptoms and risks associated with gum disease, you can feel more encouraged to seek treatment from your dentist. Gum disease is easier to eradicate when diagnosed in an early stage.

Attending regular dental check-ups will maximize oral hygiene, helping you better fight gum disease. A dentist can perform a periodontal disease screening during a routine appointment to identify gum disease even if it does not have noticeable symptoms.

Some people, like those with aggressive oral bacteria and certain health conditions, carry more risk factors for gum disease. These dental patients can work with their dentist to find targeted preventive care that will keep their gums healthy.