Erie, Harborcreek and Millcreek, PA
Gum disease affects more than half of adults in the U.S. Many don’t even know that they have it. Studies link untreated gum disease to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, certain types of cancer, and cognitive decline. That’s some pretty scary risks right there. Could your health be in jeopardy? If so, how would you know and what can be done? That’s precisely what we are discussing today as we explore the three stages of gum disease.
Stage One: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, and it’s the only stage that is reversible. So, if you have it, consider yourself lucky because, with improved oral hygiene habits and regular trips to your dentist, you can turn it around rather quickly. Signs that you may have gingivitis include sore, red, and inflamed gums, and they usually tend to bleed easily, like when you brush your teeth or floss, hence the phrase pink in the sink. Eating hard, crunchy foods like an apple or corn on the cob may even irritate or provoke your gums to bleed.
Gingivitis begins when you aren’t taking good care of your teeth and gums. You probably aren’t brushing as often as you should, and you probably don’t floss or visit your dentist. Even if you are diligent about your six-month cleanings, you still have to do your part at home by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. It takes all three of these to work. Skipping out on one important oral hygiene step would be like exercising every day, but still eating anything that you want. It takes at-home oral hygiene (brushing and flossing), as well as seeing your dentist regularly to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
Stage Two: Periodontitis
If gingivitis is ignored, it eventually graduates into periodontitis, which at this point is actual gum disease that isn’t reversible. Periodontitis can be kept from getting worse if you manage it accordingly. During this stage, however, the gums begin to become so irritated that they shrink away from your teeth creating periodontal pockets that are impossible to clean on your own, and that harbor even more harmful bacteria. You may not visibly notice this at first, but you likely will experience sensitive teeth, and foul-smelling breath that doesn’t seem to go away even after you brush or rinse with mouthwash.
At this point, professional dental cleanings, paired with your at-home oral hygiene efforts, are the only way to combat gum disease and prevent it from getting worse. Those periodontal pockets will begin to get bigger and become worse if the disease isn’t treated. It provides direct access for this harmful bacteria to enter your bloodstream, which is how it increases your risk of certain other health problems, such as cardiovascular disease.
Stage Three: Advanced Periodontitis
As gum disease worsens, the final stage is advanced periodontitis. At this stage, you probably will see noticeable symptoms, such as loose teeth, and may even begin experiencing tooth loss as a result of not getting treatment. At this late in the game, it is fairly difficult to turn things around, although treatment is essential to prevent further damage to your existing teeth. If you have experienced tooth loss as a result of gum disease, talk to the dentist about your tooth replacement options to restore your smile. It’s important, however, that even in this late stage that you receive treatment, because otherwise, the bacteria erode the jawbone, making it difficult to wear dentures, or to receive dental implants to replace your missing teeth.
After receiving a diagnosis of gum disease, treatment is the first priority to help you regain control of your oral health. Gum disease treatment is two-fold. Patients must comply with our recommendations for at-home oral hygiene, as well as follow through with the recommended professional dental treatments. Otherwise, your gum disease cannot be stopped, and it will worsen, causing irreversible damage to your smile. A lot of people simply think that they do not have the time or money to take good enough care of their teeth. Well, we understand how life can be, but we also know first hand that you either have to invest that time and money now, or you’ll get caught having to pay for it later. How we treat our bodies eventually will catch up to us one way or another. Why not protect what you have now?
To learn more ways to protect your oral health or to schedule a consultation for gum disease treatment, just call Laser Dentistry of Erie at (814) 825-2615. We welcome patients of Erie, Harborcreek, and Millcreek, PA.