What is gum disease or periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease, more frequently called gum disease, plagues nearly 70 million people in the US. Once someone has periodontal disease they require treatment with a dentist or periodontist in order to reverse it, if possible, prevent its progression, and ultimately prevent periodontal disease caused tooth loss.
Periodontal disease is inflammation of the gum and bone support tissues. It is most commonly caused by poor brushing and oral hygiene habits that have allowed bacteria to build up along the gums and tissue that eventually lead to destructive infection.
Science is rapidly finding the associations between gum disease and other serious systemic diseases. Most recently, gum disease was linked with faster Alzheimer disease decline. And so, now more than ever, it’s becoming increasingly clear that your oral health affects your entire well-being. This makes preventing and reversing a diagnosis of gum disease a call to action.
Periodontal disease is when the gums get infected by plaque and bacteria buildup and pull away from the teeth.
There are 4 levels of gum disease.
Level 1 Periodontal Disease (Gingivitis)
The gums, around your teeth, begin to get infected by plague and bacterial buildup. At this level patients will often notice periodic bad breath, red and swollen gums, and blood when brushing or flossing. This first level is reversible with regular practice of good dental habits (brushing and flossing) along with regular checkups and dental cleanings.
If gingivitis is left untreated, it may progress to:
Level 2 (Slight Periodontal Disease or Gum Disease)
At this point, the bacteria infecting your gums goes deeper affecting more gum tissue and bone. At this point, daily oral hygiene will not halt the further progression of gum disease. Interestingly, the symptoms of the disease at this stage can be silent. While there may increasing bleeding and swelling, most of these symptoms can go unnoticed. The true determination of what the level of periodontal disease is at this point, can only be determined by your dentist. She or he will probe your gums and the depth to which she/he can go determines if you are at a level 2 gum disease stage or level 3.
Level 3 (Moderate Periodontal Disease or Gum Disease)
The difference between slight and moderate periodontal disease is determined by the depth to which the dentist can probe your gums. If the dentist can probe between 4-5 mm, its considered slight periodontal disease. If the probing depths are 6-7 mm, this is moderate periodontal disease. Additionally, patients will notice increasing and new symptoms such as: teeth shifting, loose teeth, gum recession and sensitivity, and increased bleeding…
At both level 2 and 3, bacteria are entering your blood stream and stressing your immune system. At this point in time, a deep cleaning is one of the most important tools in reversing and addressing periodontal disease. If the disease goes untreated, it will progress to:
Level 4 (Advanced Periodontal Disease)
The final stage leading to tooth loss and dentures, it also increases other systemic diseases. This is truly a critical disease at this point requiring surgical and laser interventions.
Treatment and Prevention of Periodontal Disease are Key
Regular brushing and flossing are a strong foundation for good oral health. Regular dental checkups and routing cleanings are also part of the maintaining a healthy mouth.
Your dentist will recommend a dental deep cleaning to address any signs of periodontal disease. The procedure involves scaling and root planing. It may require some anesthetic to numb the area. The dentist will then remove all the calculus, debris, bacteria, and plaque that are above and below the gum line. They will also remove bacteria from the root of the tooth. You may also be prescribed an antibiotic as part of the follow up.
If you’ve been diagnosed with periodontal disease, you’ll need a professional deep cleaning. Dental deep cleanings are a powerful and can reverse the early and mid-stages of periodontal disease. Call our office at 773-481-2000 to schedule a consultation if you think you have or have been diagnosed with periodontal disease. You can also schedule your dental consultation online.