As adults age, the likelihood of getting periodontal disease increases. It might surprise you to learn that 47.2% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of periodontal disease. In fact, adults 65 years and older have an even higher chance, with over 70.1% in some stage of the disease.
You might be wondering, with something so prevalent in adults, what is periodontal disease and what are its stages?
If you take care of your teeth and mouth and schedule regular visits to the dentist, are you still at risk for this disease?
Read on to learn more about the stages of periodontal disease and what you should watch for in your mouth.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is a more advanced form of gum disease. Periodontal disease occurs when there's inflammation of the gums around the teeth and can lead to bone loss.
Depending on the severity of the periodontal disease and what stage you're suffering from, you'll likely see red and swollen gums around your teeth. The gum tissue will recede, and patients will have bone loss.
In severe periodontal disease cases, teeth will become mobile, and patients will eventually lose them.
Warning Signs of Periodontal Disease
With so many adults impacted by periodontal disease, you might wonder if you're suffering from it. There are some warning signs to look out for, including:
- Red or swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- A bad taste that won't go away
- Sensitive teeth
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth
- Receeded Gums
In addition to these warning signs, it’s important to pay attention to how your teeth are positioned. If you feel like your teeth have shifted or your bite has changed, this could be a sign of periodontal disease.
This would also be true if you wear partial dentures. If the fit changes, you might be suffering from periodontal disease.
Stages of Periodontal Disease
What might start as a simple form of gum disease in your mouth can progress into late-state periodontal disease without the right care for your mouth.
The good news is that whether you're at the beginning or advanced stages of periodontal disease, with trearment from your dentist and diligent mouth care, you can get the problem under control.
Stage 1: Gingivitis
The first stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis. The problem with gingivitis, besides having it, is that many people overlook it.
Gingivitis is a common and mild form of gum disease. The most common symptoms include reddening, irritation, and some swelling of the gums. In this stage, some people will also experience bleeding gums or have particularly bad breath.
If your dentist spots signs of gingivitis, they will use a tool called a periodontal probe to evaluate your condition. This tool measures the periodontal pockets, which let the dentist know the severity of your gingivitis.
The good news about gingivitis is that it is very treatable. Patients need to increase their oral hygiene regimen, including proper brushing, flossing, and mouth rinsing.
If your dentist spots gingivitis, you will need to have frequent checkups to monitor the condition and prevent it from worsening.
Stage 2: Early Periodontitis
Ignoring gingivitis can lead to the next stage of periodontal disease: early periodontitis. The symptoms of early periodontitis include inflamed and red gum tissue surrounding the teeth.
There will also be noticeable bone loss around the teeth. During a periodontal probe examination, the dentist would notice deepening periodontal pockets.
If you're suffering from early periodontal disease, you'll notice that your gums are more likely to bleed during flossing and professional cleanings. You might see your gums starting to recede, making your mouth and teeth look aged.
Treatments for early periodontitis include more in-depth teeth cleaning. The hygienist will use a process called scaling and root planing, which removes the advanced layers of built-up tartar.
Removing this makes it easier for your gums to reattach to your teeth properly.
Stage 3: Moderate Periodontitis
When early-stage periodontitis isn't treated, it can develop into moderate periodontitis. At this stage, it is more obvious that there's a problem, and it is more painful.
As periodontal disease progresses, there will likely be more bone loss. The area around the gums will likely become infected. When this happens, the gums will bleed, and infection will let in under the gumline.
It is also possible for your gums to further recede from your teeth. In this scenario, your teeth lose the natural support system that holds them in place. This may result in your teeth feeling loose.
However, treatment is still possible by a dental professional. They will need to clean out the area inside the gingival pockets. This process is called scaling and root planing.
Stage 4: Advanced Periodontitis
Advanced periodontitis can become very painful for the patient. In this stage, it's possible that your gums are very infected, and your gingival pockets may have deepened to as much as a quarter of an inch. Often patients have teeth that are no longer salvageable.
Any chewing will be extremely painful for the patient at this stage of advanced periodontitis. The patient is also likely to have a foul taste in their mouth, which is the result of an infection. Another sign is extreme bad breath.
At this stage of advanced periodontal disease, the problem can become more than a dental issue. It can extend to other health issues, like heart disease, diabetes, and even some forms of cancer.
This stage must be treated urgently. This includes complete cleaning and treatment inside the gingival pockets. Many patients will be put on antibiotics to address the bacteria levels.
Understanding the Stages of Periodontal Disease
Now that you understand the four stages of periodontal disease, you can see how they can progress if left untreated. The first step in the prevention of periodontitis is good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist.
If you're ready to make an appointment and start your road to good dental health, we can help. Contact us today to get started.