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Understanding the Stages of Gum Disease & How to Prevent Progression

You’ve probably heard of gum disease, a condition that occurs when the gums and the bones responsible for supporting the teeth become inflamed and infected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 46% of adults aged 30 and older show signs of gum disease. In fact, gum disease is one of the top causes of tooth loss.

But did you know that gum disease (also referred to as “periodontal disease”) is a progressive condition that can worsen if left untreated? Below, we discuss gum disease stages and treatment options. We also offer helpful tips for how to prevent gum disease from progressing.

The Gum Disease Progression Timeline

The dental community classifies gum disease into the following four stages, ranging from gingivitis (mildest) to advanced periodontitis (most severe):

  • Gingivitis – Some of the first signs of gum disease include gum redness and swelling, bleeding when brushing and flossing, chronic bad breath, and pain while chewing (especially with very hot and very cold foods). Symptoms like these can support a gingivitis diagnosis. Luckily, with proper treatment, gingivitis is reversible.
  • Mild periodontitis – If gingivitis is left untreated, the gums can start pulling away from the teeth and forming pockets. When this happens, gum disease will have advanced from gingivitis to mild periodontitis. Unfortunately, gum disease can no longer be reversed once it reaches the periodontitis stage, although treatment can help slow its progression and manage any resulting symptoms.
  • Moderate periodontitis – Once the bones, ligaments, and soft tissues begin eroding, gum disease will be classified as moderate periodontitis. It’s common for pus to appear along the gum line at this stage.
  • Advanced periodontitis – When gum disease progresses to advanced periodontitis, it places the teeth at risk of loosening and falling out.

Gum disease treatment varies from one person to another, potentially including scaling, root planing, and grafting. If there’s a bacterial infection present, it may also require either oral or topical antibiotics. An experienced dentist can recommend the treatment approach that’s right for you.

Gum Disease Prevention Methods

One of the leading causes of gum disease is the buildup of plaque, tartar, and bacteria. So, to avoid developing gum disease—or prevent it from progressing to the next stage—it’s important that you maintain good oral hygiene. This includes:

  • Brushing and flossing your teeth (the American Dental Association recommends brushing twice and flossing once each day)
  • Using an antimicrobial mouthwash
  • Regularly attending professional dental cleanings (many dentists recommend two visits each year but some people require more frequent cleanings)

You should also consume a nutritious diet that’s low in sugar, quit smoking and/or chewing tobacco (if applicable), and have your dentist correct any rough or poorly fitting dental restorations.

Your Choice for Gum Disease Treatment in the Greater Merrimack Valley

If you’re experiencing any of the gum disease symptoms described above, you can turn to Smiles by Stylos Dental Health & Sleep Center for diagnosis and treatment. We’ve been serving the Greater Merrimack Valley since 1987 and we offer a full range of general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, restorative dentistry, and sleep services, including treatment for gum disease. From identifying early signs of gum disease to treating advanced gum disease, we do it all, and we’ll supply you with treatment recommendations that are carefully tailored to your specific needs. We can even perform gum grafting, if required.

Contact Smiles by Stylos today to schedule an appointment at our Chelmsford, Massachusetts, dental clinic. We’re open Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and we’ll be happy to arrange a visit at the date and time that’s most convenient for you.

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