Periodontal disease, commonly referred to as gum disease, is estimated to affect nearly 80 percent of the American population. In many cases, symptoms such as bad breath, red, puffy, and painful gums, loose teeth and receding gum lines can identify periodontal disease.
If you neglect to brush and floss your teeth regularly, plaque can build up on your teeth and begin to harden. Plaque is a sticky colorless film that contains the bacteria that irritates gums. Once it begins to harden, it becomes a rough porous substance called calculus (or tartar.) A build-up of calculus around the gum line is called gingivitis. Gums that are typically pink and healthy will appear red and swollen. You may also begin to experience painful bleeding gums when you brush or floss. At this point, gingivitis is still reversible since the bone and tissue that holds your teeth in place have not been affected yet. Gingivitis therapy can be completed in as little as one or two visits, after which the gums can begin to heal.
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress and begin irreversible damage to the fibers and bones that hold your teeth in place. This stage of gum disease, called periodontitis, requires an immediate visit to a doctor for professional gum disease treatment. With the presence of periodontitis, “pockets” or spaces begin to form around your teeth. These pockets trap plaque and bacteria, which destroy the connective tissues that secure your teeth in place. You may also notice your gums beginning to recede and gaps forming between your teeth.
In the third and final stage of gum disease, destruction of the connective tissue and bone that support your teeth has worsened. The pockets that formed in the periodontitis stage have deepened and your teeth may become loose and begin to shift. Once your condition has evolved to advanced periodontitis, seeing a doctor for professional gum disease treatment is unavoidable if you want to save your teeth. The effects of advanced periodontitis extend beyond your oral health and can be linked to serious health complications including diabetes, heart disease, and pre-term birth.
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