Gum Disease – Basic Information

The Stages of Periodontal DiseaseCaring for your gums at home and visiting your periodontist regularly can significantly lower your risk for developing gum disease that can drastically affect your quality of life. Brushing, flossing, and rinsing daily as well as avoiding sugary foods and substances such as tobacco that contribute to the development of gum disease will go a long way to keeping your gums – and your body – healthy!

Healthy perodontium (gums):

  • Are consistently pink or coral in color
  • Are firm and resistant to movement
  • Tightly and securely contour to your teeth with minimal space between the gingiva (gum lining) and each tooth
  • Do not bleed or react adversely to flossing, brushing, or light scaling

What is Gum Disease?

Because our mouths are the gateway for food intake, our gums and teeth are hotbeds for bacteria. While regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing, as well as cleanings by your dentist can eliminate many of these bacteria, untended-to plaque and calculus (hardened plaque, also known as “tartar”) build up can eventually cause inflammation of the gums and lead to gum disease. Gum disease is progressive and gradual, meaning you may not notice or experience symptoms until it is too late.

Diseased perodontium (gums):

  • Are red, swollen, and tender to touch
  • Easily bleed when brushing or flossing
  • Peel away or recede from teeth, making them appear longer
  • Result in persistent halitosis (bad breath)
  • Alter the way your teeth fit together when biting
  • Result in pus between gums or teeth

The first and mildest stage of periodontal disease is Gingivitis which results in gum inflammation caused by plaque and calculus build up that has not been properly cleaned and removed from teeth. This initial stage of disease can be treated and reversed if caught in time. A good cleaning and continued healthy habits at home can prevent gingivitis from advancing to more serious disease.

If left untreated gingivitis can progress to Periodontitis, which is inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding teeth. During this stage, gums begin to recede away from the tooth forming a “pocket” below the gumline into which plaque, tartar, and other bacteria can become trapped and eventually infected. Gradually as these pockets deepen, the bacteria and resulting infection can spread to the bone and tissue which support the tooth causing the tooth to loosen, or depending on the severity of the periodontitis, cause the tooth to fall or require removal. Damage caused to the periodontium at this stage, such as a gum recession and pocket formation, is permanent but can be managed with a proper care and cleaning regimen as prescribed by your periodontist.

Gum disease manifests in several forms, from mild and easily treatable gingivitis to advanced, aggressive, or necrotizing forms of periodontitis. The best way to prevent gum disease is to schedule an exam with Dr. Ira Ginsberg before you begin experiencing discomfort!