Periodontal disease can sound frightening, but it’s very common. In the U.S., around 65 million people have some form of the disease.
It’s caused by bacteria around the teeth that lead to inflammation and further problems. When bacteria aren’t taken care of right away, the buildup will form plaque and eventually tartar. Tartar can’t be removed by a toothbrush so once it gets to this stage, periodontal disease is even more likely to set in.
Never fear—it can be taken care of! The specific treatment you need will depend on which of the periodontal disease stages you’re currently experiencing.
Only a professional will be able to tell you what stage you’re in for sure, but you’ll get a good idea by examining your mouth and which symptoms you have.
The First of the Periodontal Disease Stages: Gingivitis
Gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease, isn’t too severe and is easily reversed. This happens when plaque begins to build up around the teeth, though it may not yet have hardened into tartar.
It can be a little hard to spot, so it requires a careful eye. If the gums are slightly swollen and red or bleed when you brush or floss them, it’s probably gingivitis. Another sign might be having bad breath on occasion.
If you think you may have gingivitis, schedule a cleaning with your dentist. This should be enough to take care of the problem.
Mild Periodontal Disease
At this point, the disease has spread to the bone, and cleaning on your own will not take care of the problem.
The gums may begin to pull away from the bone, and symptoms of red gums, bleeding, and bad breath will be much more prominent. There may be a little pain and sensitivity around the area.
If things have gotten to this stage, seeing a professional is a must, as you will no longer be able to reverse this through maintaining good hygiene.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
At this point, the disease can be serious and affect day-to-day life.
The disease will be affecting your teeth so much at this point that they’ll be shifting around and coming loose within the gums. Scaling and root planing will be required for recovery.
What’s most dangerous if periodontitis reaches this stage is that the bacteria can attack your bloodstream, and symptoms may extend beyond the mouth. If your gum disease has become so bad that your gums are no longer the only thing affected and your teeth are coming loose, you must see a professional immediately, as the disease can become dangerous.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
10.8% of people worldwide are affected by severe periodontal disease, so it’s not uncommon, but it is very dangerous. You are now at a very high risk of bone loss since the disease has been left to progress.
Severe halitosis is likely at this point, as well as the loss of teeth and pus or blood oozing from the gums. The disease is likely to be extremely painful.
It may even hit a point where you feel too embarrassed to see a dentist, but it’s time to go. Otherwise, you’re putting your body at risk since the disease can also attack your immune system. Painful abscesses are among the more severe possibilities.
When left to get this bad, it’s not limited to your mouth, but the treatment should start there. Gum disease treatment is a dentist’s job, so make sure you get some help.
Otherwise, it’s going to become even more painful to live with. Even eating will be difficult.
How to Treat Periodontal Disease and the Outlook for Treatment
The treatment for periodontal disease will depend on the stage it’s at.
If it hasn’t progressed beyond gingivitis, you might be able to persist with cleaning and flossing on your own until it dies down, though it’s best to see a professional to check. In the early stages, getting a professional cleaning to get rid of any plaque or tartar will help.
As it progresses, deep cleaning will be necessary to make sure all of the bacteria have been dug out of your mouth.
In the more severe stages, antibiotics may be necessary if the disease isn’t responding to cleanings.
At its worst, “flap surgery” may be necessary. This is a surgery that lifts your gums away from your teeth so your teeth can be cleaned properly and then replaces them. It’s also possible to incorporate bone grafting into the same surgery so that any lost bone can be replaced.
The long-term outlook for periodontal disease is usually very good, especially if the patient is willing to keep up their oral hygiene. Cases that are caught later may need more extensive treatment, but that treatment is still usually successful.
Stay Aware, Take Precautions, and Seek a Professional If Need Be
The most important thing you can do when it comes to periodontal disease is to stay aware and keep an eye on your teeth and gums.
The moment you notice bad breath or bleeding if you brush too hard, schedule a check-up with your dentist.
The periodontal disease stages are usually allowed to progress because people try to take care of the problem on their own, or are perhaps too embarrassed to see a professional. It’s a dentist’s job to assist with treating these issues, so never allow the problem to get any worse because you’re worried about what they’ll think!
To prevent periodontal disease and other potential issues, check out some tips on the best foods to eat for a healthy mouth next!