There are two main stages of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease refers to an infection of the gums and their underlying supporting tissues. It is caused by bacteria that live inside the plaque and tartar deposits on the teeth. If left untreated, periodontal disease not only causes damage to the gum tissues but also causes destruction of the jawbone and may even lead to tooth loss.
Different types of periodontal diseases have been characterized into two main stages by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP): gingivitis and periodontitis.
Initial Stage of Periodontal Disease: Gingivitis
This is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It is characterized by the inflammation of the gum tissues caused by the build-up of plaque and calculus on the teeth around the gum line. The bacteria present in the plaque and calculus deposits release harmful products that result in the destruction of the gum tissues. As a result, the gums start to recede from their original position, exposing more tooth structure and making the teeth appear longer.
The clinical symptoms of gingivitis include:
- Gum swelling and redness
- Spontaneous bleeding
- Gum recession
- Tooth sensitivity
Since gingivitis is only the initial stage of periodontal disease, it can be easily reversed through optimal oral hygiene maintenance and professional teeth cleaning.
Advanced Periodontal Disease: Periodontitis
If gingival inflammation is not treated timely, the infection can spread into the underlying bone and fibers that support your teeth. When this happens, the gums begin to detach from the teeth, and “pockets” begin to form between teeth and the gums, further promoting food impaction and disease progression. At this stage, the teeth will become mobile in their sockets, and the gum swelling becomes even more pronounced.
There are different types of periodontal disease:
- Aggressive Periodontitis – this type of periodontal disease occurs in patients who are clinically healthy and may not have any underlying problem. Common symptoms of this form of periodontitis include rapid gum detachment and bone loss.
- Chronic Periodontitis – this is the most common form of periodontitis that is characterized by the formation of pockets around the teeth, and recession of the gums. Although it is more common in adults, it can occur at any age. The disease usually progresses slowly, but sometimes periods of rapid progression can also be observed.
- Periodontitis due to Underlying Systemic Disease – periodontitis can also occur as a result of underlying chronic medical conditions such as heart or respiratory diseases, and diabetes. This form of periodontitis usually begins at an early age.
- Necrotizing Periodontal Disease – this type of periodontal disease is characterized by necrosis (rapid destruction) of the gum tissues, jawbone, and the periodontal ligament. Necrotizing periodontitis is usually seen in individuals who have underlying conditions like malnutrition, immune disease, or HIV.
Regardless of the type of periodontal disease, the cure is simple; prevention. Take good care of your oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly. These two simple steps can go a long way in preventing periodontal disease.
As always we welcome you to call our office at 773-481-2200 for any questions or concerns, or to schedule an appointment.
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