As children we were always told that it’s really important to have good oral hygiene. However, as we got older and our daily life has become more and more busy, we sometimes neglect our oral care. One of the main concerns you should be having if you’re oral hygiene isn’t good and regular is gum disease. About 47% of all adults aged 30 and up are affected by this. Furthermore, seniors between the age of 65 and 70, in 70% suffer from this condition.
What is gum disease exactly?
Gum disease, or the technical term periodontal disease, is a dental condition that affects the gums around your teeth, causing inflammation and infection. Periodontal disease is mostly caused by bacterial buildup, if the growth is left unchecked and your oral hygiene is poor.
The plaque and tartar which forms thanks to these bacteria, can become hard, acidic and can strip away the protective gum and bone tissue around your teeth.
The most common cause of gum disease is bacteria. High numbers of bacteria cause the gums to get inflamed, infected and start bleeding. It’s important that this condition is diagnosed and treated as soon as possible before it becomes progressive and cause loss of tooth and bone structure.
Bacteria of course isn’t the only cause of gum disease. It can also be caused by certain lifestyle choices such as smoking, diabetes, immune system deficiencies, unbalanced diet, hormonal changes and so on.
Different stages of periodontal disease
Dentist differentiate four different phases of gum disease. Knowing more about each individual stage can help you identify wither you have this condition and whether to get treatment before it becomes worse.
Stage 1 of gum disease – Gingivitis
The early stage of periodontal disease is known as Gingivitis. The most common sign of this is plaque buildup around your teeth and a few signs that aren’t painful. From all the people that suffer form Gingivitis, 10-15% are at risk from developing further stages of periodontal disease. This condition is pretty normal if your oral hygiene is poor and it can easily be treated and reversed.
Stage 2 – Initial periodontitis
When Gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease is left untreated, it can advance to deeper periodontal structures, mainly the tissue which connects your teeth to your jaw bone. By the time the disease reaches this stage, the infection begins to destroy healthy bone structure. 10% of the population suffer from this form of gum disease which is often the first sign of bone loss.
Stage 3 – Mild Periodontitis
The third stage of gum disease is also known as mild periodontitis. When someone suffers from this type of periodontal disease, he/she will start developing symptoms of significant bone loss and lose 20-50% of the root structure of his/her teeth. This is of course caused by further tissue inflammation and bone tissue destructions. If this reaches a chronic stage, the condition requires immediate attention since it can very quickly deteriorate and enter the fourth and final stage.
Stage 4 of gum disease – Progressive Periodontitis
This is the last and most severe stage of gum disease. It’s usually characterized as severe bone loss at the root of the tooth. At this stage, almost 50-85% of bone tissue is destroyed and because of this, it can lead to lose tooth and even tooth loss. Furthermore, it can also cause tooth shifts, red, inflamed and bleeding gums which can be really painful. Pus-filled abscesses are also a common occurrence. During this stage, the patient is at severe risk of tooth loss which is often followed by severe pain when eating or speaking.
If you’ve noticed some mild redness and tenderness on your gums, it could be the first sign of gum disease. Make sure that you schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible so you can rule out gum disease or start treatment if it is periodontal disease.