Gum disease is a slippery slope, and once it starts, it gets harder to treat the longer it continues. There are various stages of gum disease and severe consequences of this issue that require a specific type of dentistry called periodontics. What’s more, preventing gum disease couldn’t be simpler if you stick to a routine.
This is why we at Grace Dental Group believe that knowledge about gum disease and its side effects is vital. Woo Young Lee, DDS — and the rest of our staff — want to arm you with the truth so you can avoid gum disease altogether and stay as healthy as possible.
The stages of gum disease
Gum (or periodontal) disease itself isn’t just one problem. It’s an issue that develops in stages from mild to severe. The first stage is gingivitis, followed by periodontitis, and finally, advanced periodontitis. And while most people tend to be more concerned with cavities and other dental issues, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on periodontal disease found 8.52% of adults from the age of 20 to 64 suffer from one of these gum-related conditions.
Gingivitis is the earliest type of gum disease. It occurs when a buildup of plaque is filled with bacteria on the teeth. When you are suffering from gingivitis, you might experience inflamed gums that bleed constantly. Gingivitis can be treated with professional cleaning, but unfortunately, many people let the issue continue beyond this point.
Periodontitis is the second stage of gum disease, which will occur if you allow your gingivitis to go untreated. The inflammation caused by gingivitis can lead to the development of pockets between your teeth and your gums. These pockets will begin to fill with bacteria, and they will become worse over time.
The bacteria will start to break down the tissues behind your gums, eventually leading to bone loss. This is not something that is as easily reversed as gingivitis’ effects, but it can still be treated and reversed in many cases. Sadly, if it is not treated, it only gets worse from here.
If your gums are allowed to reach advanced periodontitis, the loss of gum tissue and bone will eventually loosen your teeth. This could cause you to require having one or more of your permanent teeth removed surgically. In addition, advanced periodontitis can lead to other long-term issues like chronic inflammation.
Preventing gum disease at home
Ready for some good news? You can easily prevent gum disease before it gets to any of the stages above by taking some simple precautions and creating a solid oral hygiene routine that you follow consistently. Make sure to do all of the following, and you’ll be golden.
- Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Brush for two minutes during each brushing session.
- Invest in an electric toothbrush as they have been proven to be more effective at preventing plaque buildup.
- Use mouthwash at least once a day.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Quit smoking if you haven’t already. Smoking severely increases the plaque buildup in your mouth.
- Visit your dentist every six months for a cleaning and checkup.
- If you take certain medications that increase your risk of experiencing gum disease (usually because they cause dry mouth), be extra intentional with your oral care routine.
An ounce of prevention…
You know the saying; it’s always better to prevent the potential of gum disease rather than to have to treat it. Still, if you do think you’re suffering from gum disease at any stage — or you’re simply ready to schedule your regular cleaning — call (415) 921-8867 or book an appointment at our San Francisco, CA office.