Gum disease is one of the most common reasons why people seek the help of a dentist in Medford. Knowing a little bit about the stages of this condition can help you to not only take better care of your teeth and gums, it can also enable you to be a more empowered patient during dental appointments.
The Three Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease follows three stages, each more serious than the last. These are:
- Gingivitis. At this stage, the gums are swollen and sensitive. This is caused by toxins that build up in the mouth, usually due to lack of regular dental hygiene. Brushing and flossing may be uncomfortable, and the person may notice some bleeding. This stage can often be reversed by normal self-care and/or professional dental treatment.
- Periodontal disease. At this stage, the teeth and gums have suffered some degree of damage. This stage may manifest itself in pockets that form beneath the gum line. By this point, professional dental care is needed.
- Advanced periodontitis. This stage is characterized by extreme inflammation of the gums and usually some degree of tooth loss. Immediate dental care is urgent for minimizing the condition and helping the patient to enjoy some degree of recovery.
Early Warning Signs of Gum Disease
As you can see, gum disease is a progressive illness. Preventing it from causing serious damage to your health mean staying alert for the early warning signs. These may include:
- Gums that are swollen, tender, or unusually red.
- Teeth that appear to have grown longer because the gums have receded.
- Teeth that are loose or that shift from side to side.
- Persistent bad breath, often accompanied by an unusual taste in the patient’s mouth.
- Stained or discolored teeth.
What Your Dentist Can Do to Help
Make an appointment to see your dentist right away if you notice any of the above symptoms. He or she can help to arrest the disease by taking one or more of the following steps:
- Performing a professional teeth cleaning. This procedure goes beyond what you can do with regular brushing and flossing. It removes built-up plaque and tartar that may cause gum disease and tooth decay.
- Root planing. This is an advanced form of dental cleaning that removes plaque and tartar, both underneath and above the gum line. Following this step, your dentist will plane, or gently reshape, the exterior of your teeth, helping the gums to regain lost adhesion.
- Tooth extraction. While this is never the treatment of choice for tooth problems, it’s sometimes necessary for patient comfort and overall dental health.
- Restoration or cosmetic procedures. If you have lost some of your teeth to gum disease, then your dentist may recommend crowns, bridges, or implants to restore lost functionality and correct any aesthetic concerns you may have.
Gum disease is a serious condition that can affect every aspect of your health. See your dentist as soon as possible if you suspect you’re suffering from this illness. Prompt treatment can help you to enjoy lasting recovery and a better, brighter future.
About the Author
Dr. Anthony Giamberardino has been in private practice in Massachusetts since 1985. A graduate of Tufts University School of Dentistry, he is specially trained in restorative, cosmetic, and preventive procedures. You can reach his office online or by calling (781) 396-3800.