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How Does Gum Disease Progress?

More than half of adults in the United States will eventually develop an infection in the gum tissue known as periodontal disease. The gums serve a crucial role in your oral health because this tissue connects the teeth to the jaw. You could suffer irreversible damage to the gums, teeth, and jawbone if gum disease progresses.

If left untreated, the bacteria from the gum infection will spread. It will not go away on its own, so you will need to seek treatment from your dentist to preserve the look and feel of your smile.

You might wonder how you can tell if you have gum disease. You can experience a variety of symptoms depending on the stage of gum disease you have. Explore each phase of gum disease and what it means for your oral health when you read on.

How Does Gum Disease Progress

Signs of Gingivitis

The earliest stage of gum disease, gingivitis, refers to inflammation within the gum tissue. As bacteria begin to eat away at the gums, the tissue becomes irritated, leaving it looking red, swollen, or bloody. Many people do not appreciate the puffy look of the gums detracting from the smile’s appearance, but the infection will cause further harm without intervention from a dentist.

At this stage, a dentist will begin treating the infection with periodontal therapy. This can involve cleaning techniques known as scaling and root planing, which clear out excess bacteria from the infection.

The dentist will use a scaler to thoroughly clean the teeth, especially deep in the gum pockets. Then they complete root planing to press the gum tissue against the tooth and encourage the healing process. The dentist may also recommend using an antibacterial mouthwash to balance oral bacteria and relieve uncomfortable periodontal symptoms.

Treatment for Advanced Gum Disease

If you do not seek treatment for gingivitis, the infection will spread. Pockets of bacterial buildup between the roots of the tooth will affect the stability of the tooth. This can lead to a decline in the tooth’s strength.

The gums can also begin to recede, deteriorating support for the teeth to the point that they can fall out of their sockets. Dentists refer to this advanced stage of gum disease as periodontitis.

If gum disease progresses, it can be more difficult to treat. The infection may persist after scaling and root planing therapies. Then the dentist may need to use more targeted laser dental treatments to get rid of damaged gum tissue.

Before initiating treatment, Dr. Drew Shulman will conduct a thorough review of the patient’s medical history. Then the dentist will create a plan tailored specifically to the patient’s needs. Regular screenings during routine dental visits allow for early detection of gum disease, thereby enabling a proactive treatment approach.

Poor Gum Health: A Catalyst for Other Diseases

Poor gum health not only leads to deteriorating dental well-being but may also aggravate existing conditions, making them more difficult to manage. Certain medications prescribed for specific health issues may negatively affect your oral health by causing dry mouth, which in turn impacts tooth and gum vitality. To prevent these complications, patients should maintain good oral hygiene practices like brushing twice a day, flossing regularly, and scheduling routine visits with their dentist for cleanings and examinations.