When most people hear the words “gingivitis” or “periodontal disease,” they assume that it's about someone else. However, research has shown that almost half of American adults have some form of periodontal disease, a potentially serious oral health condition that can affect more than just your gum tissue. Periodontal disease can degrade your bones, attack your teeth, and even result in tooth loss if it goes long enough without treatment. Here are the stages of periodontal disease, how to recognize them, and how Dr. Karl A. Rose, one of the best periodontists in Washington DC, can help you to return to oral health.
One of the reasons gingivitis is so scary is because most people don’t even realize they have it. Gingivitis causes very slight symptoms, including reddened gums, occasional bad breath, and gums that tend to bleed when you floss. At this stage, bacteria have started to accumulate along the gum line and the tissues have started to pull away slightly, creating a “gingival pocket” with depths of between 2mm and 4mm. Fortunately, bone loss has not yet begun, and gingivitis is completely reversible with proper care.
Patients can eliminate gingivitis by carefully focusing on their oral hygiene routine at home. Careful flossing, brushing twice a day, and meeting with Dr. Rose regularly for dental checkups might be all it takes to return your teeth to normal health.
Unfortunately, if patients don’t change their ways and gingivitis is left unchecked, bacteria can continue to invade the gingival pocket, leading to early periodontitis. At this stage, the gums become even redder and more inflamed, and the bad breath can be even more offensive. The infection has moved deeper into the gum tissue, where it has started to attack the underlying structures that support your teeth.
To reverse early periodontitis, careful attention to oral hygiene is recommended along with a professional deep cleaning to remove bacteria. Dr. Rose might also prescribe an oral antibiotic rinse to keep bacteria levels in check.
Moderate periodontitis is marked by ever-worsening bad breath, bleeding gums, and inflamed oral tissues. Bacteria accumulations at this stage have caused gum tissue to start to recess significantly, creating gingival pocket depths of between 6mm and 7mm. Moderate periodontitis also means that bacteria are actively attacking the alveolar bone and the periodontal ligament, creating loosening teeth, pus oozing from the gum line, shifting teeth, and gum recession.
To stop moderate periodontitis, Dr. Rose will need to perform more aggressive deep-cleaning procedures, such as scaling and planing. During this process, Dr. Rose will scrape plaque and tartar away from the teeth, and then use special tools to smooth the surface of the teeth to make it possible for gum tissue to reattach. Patients with moderate periodontitis are usually carefully monitored during more frequent dental checkups.
Without proper care, simple cases of gingivitis and periodontitis can morph into full-blown advanced periodontitis, marked by loose or missing teeth, severe gum recession, and bacteria that leaches into the bloodstream and causes system-wide inflammation. At this stage, periodontitis has caused permanent damage that can only be repaired through surgical techniques and laser treatments.
However, by using state-of-the-art procedures like LANAP and dental implants, Dr. Rose can eliminate bacteria, encourage the gums to reattach, and replace teeth that have fallen out due to periodontal disease. With careful reconstruction and a patient who is motivated to prevent future problems, the mouth can be restored to its natural beauty.