Gum disease is often one term used to describe what are actually three different things. While each level of infection is recognized by a medical term all its own, they are all in fact an infection of the gums. At our dental office in Hagerstown, we want to help our neighbors identify each level of gum disease, educate them on the risk factors, and talk about the complications that may result if gum disease is left untreated.
Different Stages of Gum Disease
Let’s start with the mildest form of gum disease — gingivitis. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease and is classified by gum inflammation, redness, or maybe some bleeding while brushing and flossing. It’s caused when too much plaque builds up under the gum line. When caught before it has a chance to progress gingivitis can be treated and reversed.
The next stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis. When gingivitis isn’t treated, the plaque buildup can start to affect the bone and tissues that are responsible for keeping the teeth sturdy and in place. If this occurs, it usually can’t be undone and recommended treatment is more about limiting any more damage.
The most severe form of gum disease is advanced periodontitis. During this stage, bones and tissues are seriously weakened which can cause teeth to shift, become loose, or fall out. While treatment may help stop any damage from progressing, the damage that has already occurred is irreversible.
Gum Disease Risk Factors
There are several factors that may put someone at greater risk for developing gum disease. Some of these risk factors are controllable while others are not. For example, genetics are thought to play a role in the development of gum disease, and we can’t do much about the way we’re built. However, we can reduce our risk by not smoking, brushing and flossing regularly, and eating a well-balanced diet.
Signs of Gum Disease
You may have heard gum disease described as a silent disease, but what does that mean? In the earliest stages of gum disease (gingivitis), a person may have little to no symptoms and never suspect a problem. But knowing what to keep an eye out for can help you identify gum disease early and while it’s still treatable.
- Bleeding while brushing or flossing
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Receding gums
- Swollen, red gums
Gum Disease & Overall Health
If not treated early gum disease can lead to tooth loss and some other serious whole-body concerns. Numerous studies have shown that gum disease has been linked to serious medical conditions and diseases including:
- Lung disease
- Heart attacks
The best way to protect your smile from gum disease is to brushing and floss everyday and make sure to visit your dentist in Hagerstown at least twice a year.
If it’s been longer than six months since your last dental check, give our Hagerstown dental office a call to schedule an appointment today.