What are the stages of gum disease?

If left untreated, gingivitis can advance into more severe stages of infection.

Gum disease refers to an infection of the gums and is a condition that can lead to some serious health problems if it is left untreated. In its early stages, gum disease is known as gingivitis — over time, gingivitis can progress to more severe stages of infection. Read on to find out more about each stage and what you can do to prevent and resolve the issue…

What is gingivitis?

Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease and is characterised by inflammation of the gums. If you have gingivitis, you may notice that your gums feel swollen or tender and that they bleed easily when you brush or floss your teeth.

Another possible symptom of gingivitis is discolouration, which can be caused by a build-up of plaque on the surface of the teeth. Plaque, which is made up of bacteria and food debris, needs to be removed regularly by means of brushing or flossing. If you don’t practice proper oral hygiene, plaque can accumulate and harden into tartar.

What is early periodontal disease?

If the effects of gingivitis are not addressed, the condition can advance into early periodontal disease. Early periodontal disease can cause the gums to recede and small pockets to form between your teeth and gums. These pockets then collect bacteria, which can cause damage to the teeth and gums and even cause bone loss.

What happens next?

If early periodontal disease is left to advance, you may experience moderate periodontal disease, at which point you may suffer from a loss of bone support. Your teeth may begin to feel loose at this stage, and the infection in your gums may cause an inflammatory response in other areas of your body.

If left untreated, moderate periodontal disease may worsen to advanced periodontal disease. At this stage of infection, the supportive tissues will deteriorate, and your teeth will lose some stability. You may experience pain when chewing, as well as tooth loss. Other possible symptoms of this stage of gum disease include bad breath and a bad taste in your mouth.

What causes gum disease?

Gum disease most commonly occurs as a result of poor oral hygiene. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth on a regular basis, plaque will accumulate and bacteria will build up on your teeth. Plaque then hardens into tartar, which promotes the growth of even more bacteria toward the roots of the teeth. The gums then become inflamed, and gaps may form between the gums and roots. Harmful bacteria accumulate in these pockets and as they multiply, harmful toxins are released, which damage the teeth, gums and underlying bone.

Besides poor oral hygiene, there are a number of other risk factors that can increase your chances of developing gum disease. These include smoking and certain conditions like type 2 diabetes and obesity. Other risk factors include hormonal changes in women, such as during pregnancy and menopause; certain medications; genetic factors; and poor nutrition.

How can we help?

At Mornington Peninsula Dental Clinic, we offer a range of general and preventative dentistry services. We encourage our patients to come in and see us for regular dental check-ups and cleans — these are some of the best preventive dentistry techniques and can go a long way in preventing gum disease. When you come in for a check-up, your dentist will be able to monitor your teeth and gums and make sure that they remain in good condition in the long-term. Our team will perform periodic x-rays every few years to check that your gums are healthy. If any potential issues are identified, a treatment plan will be formulated for you.

If you would like to find out more about our preventative dentistry at Mornington Peninsula Dental Clinic, please have a look here.

If you would like to come in and see us, please get in touch here or give us a call on (03) 5975 5944.

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