The Stages of Gum Disease
According to Prevalence of Periodontitis in Adults in the United States: 2009 and 2010, a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47.2 percent of American adults have some degree of gum disease. In those 65 and older, the rate increases to 70.1 percent. Considering that gum disease is also the leading cause of tooth loss among adults, these statistics are particularly concerning.
At the office of Andrew G. Mortensen, D.D.S., our team is committed to helping our patients prevent gum disease by maintaining good oral health habits and educating them about the dangers and symptoms of this serious condition. For patients that have developed the earliest stages of gum disease, we can perform restorative dentistry treatments to improve the health of the gums.
To help our patients understand the effects of gum disease, we have dedicated one of this month’s blog posts to the stages of gum disease. To learn more, read on, and then contact our Orange County, CA practice to schedule an appointment with us.
Healthy gums are pink, firm, and do not bleed when brushing or flossing. To maintain healthy gums, patients should follow these oral health guidelines:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, in the morning and at night before bed. Be sure to brush for a full two minutes, applying light pressure and keeping the brush at a 45-degree angle.
- Floss your teeth daily. Be sure to slide the floss up and around each tooth as far as it will reach.
- Attend professional dental exams and cleanings every six months.
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease. If you know what to look for, the symptoms of gingivitis are quite noticeable. They include:
- Gums that appear red in color, instead of pink
- Gums that appear puffy or swollen
- Gums that bleed easily when brushing or flossing your teeth
- Chronic bad breath
- A receding gum line
If you experience these symptoms of gingivitis, it is important that you schedule a dental exam right away. Gingivitis can be conservatively treated. In many cases, gingivitis can be treated with improved home care at home.
We may also recommend a professional deep cleaning procedure called root planing and scaling. This procedure allows Dr. Mortensen to clean the teeth below the gum line, eliminating the harmful bacteria that damage the gum tissue.
If gingivitis is left untreated, gum disease will advance to its more serious stage, periodontitis. At this point, the symptoms progress, resulting in bright red, inflamed gums that are tender to the touch. Periodontal pockets, which refer to the space between the gums and teeth, begin to develop and grow. Patients may notice that they have bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth.
As periodontitis moves into its advanced stages, the harmful bacteria do not just damage the soft tissues. They also begin to damage the jawbone. As patients experience the further loss of gum and jawbone tissue, the teeth become loose and are at risk of falling out or requiring extraction.
Because of the severe damage that can be caused by gum disease, we urge our patients to maintain good oral health habits and seek professional care at the first signs of gum disease. To schedule an appointment, contact the office of Andrew G. Mortensen, D.D.S.