Periodontitis Treatment Guide: Different Stages You Should Expect
If you’re an adult age 30 or older, you’re at risk for periodontal disease. In the United States, an estimated 42% of your age group suffers from periodontitis.
The good news? In the earliest periodontal disease stages, your dental healthcare team can minimize the negative impact on your teeth, gums, and overall health. If caught early enough, your dentist may even be able to reverse the disease.
Read today’s post and explore the different stages of periodontitis and treatment of the disease.
What Do You Already Know about Periodontal Disease?
If you’re familiar with the term gum disease, you likely know more about periodontal disease than you think. Many toothpaste ads include messages about preventing gum disease if you use their product.
The statistics mentioned earlier point to the severity of the problem. However, statistics alone don’t tell the whole story.
If you’re dentist diagnoses you with gum disease, it means you already have a damaging infection. You may have damage to the soft tissue in your gums. If left untreated, periodontitis can destroy the supporting bone in your mouth, and eventually will result in tooth loss.
Some people blame genetics for their “bad teeth.” The truth is poor oral hygiene is the most likely culprit.
Next, we’ll look at the tell-tale signs you already have gum disease.
Symptoms of Periodontitis
Look in the mirror at your gums. If they’re a pale pink, firm to the touch, and you don’t notice gaps between them and your teeth, you have healthy gums.
If your gums bleed when you brush and floss, you have a problem. That shouldn’t happen in a healthy mouth! Bleeding gums are one of the first noticeable symptoms of periodontitis.
Swollen, red, or sore gums often accompany the bleeding. Some people notice they have sensitive teeth, which usually happens when the gums recede. Gum recession is a direct result of bleeding and infection.
As the disease progresses, most people develop bad breath that doesn’t go away with brushing, mouthwash, or breath mints. In the later stages of the disease, you may have pain when chewing.
Some of the most severe symptoms include pus, loose teeth, and the development of spaces between your teeth. Receding gums are another serious symptom.
Don’t wait until you experience tooth loss or gum recession! Your dentist can help slow or stop the disease in the early stages.
Early Periodontal Disease
In the early stage, dentists call gum disease gingivitis. Markers for gingivitis include gum inflammation and, in many people, bleeding gums.
Plaque buildup at your gum line is the cause of inflammation. Plaque is a sticky film that makes your teeth feel fuzzy. If not removed, plaque produces poisons that irritate gum tissue and lead to gingivitis.
Dedication to daily dental hygiene can help prevent plaque buildup.
Start by flossing and brushing after meals. An alternative schedule could include adjusting the routine to when you wake up when you come home from work, and before you go to bed. Your dentist may also suggest an antibacterial mouth rinse.
The most critical preventative measure you can take is showing up for your 6-month dental checkups. If they detect signs of early periodontal disease, a thorough cleaning will usually take care of the problem.
Your dental team has the best chance of reversing the symptoms of gingivitis. During the earliest stage of gum disease, they can also prevent a progression to the next stages—slight, moderate, and advanced periodontal disease.
Moving on to Periodontal Disease Stages
Ignoring early gum disease puts you at risk for worsening symptoms and more severe damage to your teeth and gums.
Once you move from gingivitis to periodontal disease, your symptoms are no longer reversible. Now, your dental team moves into a program of managing the disease.
Dental professionals label the disease stages as slight, moderate, and advanced.
At the slight periodontal disease stage, your dentist will likely find a spread of infection to the bone that supports your teeth. Bacteria work more aggressively, destroying bone.
You’ll notice more swelling and redness in your gums, along with heavier bleeding when brush and floss. Your breath won’t smell pleasant, and the smell will persist even after you brush.
When your dentist checks for gum disease, they measure pocket depths—the space between your teeth and gums.
At a depth between four and five millimeters, you have slight periodontal disease. Once your dentist can probe greater than six to seven millimeters, you’ve moved into moderate periodontitis.
Don’t let things progress to advanced periodontitis!
Advanced periodontitis is the final stage of gum disease. At this stage, you’ll deal with irreversible damage to the fibers and bone, which support your teeth. You’ll also experience shifting and loosening teeth. Without aggressive treatment, you may end up losing teeth and suffer other health problems.
Periodontal Disease Treatment
Before it progresses to the advanced stage, your dental team can often treat slight and moderate periodontitis with several non-invasive procedures. These include:
- Root Planing
Once you’re in the advanced stages of periodontitis, your dentist may only have surgical treatment options, including:
- Flap Surgery
- Lanap Laser Gum Treatment
- Soft Tissue Grafting
- Bone Grafting
Flap surgery, also called pocket reduction surgery, exposes the tooth roots, which helps create a more effective environment for scaling and root planing. Soft tissue grafts can prevent further gum recession. Bone grafting helps hold a tooth in place, preventing tooth loss.
Ready to Fight Periodontitis?
We hope you have a better understanding of periodontal disease stages, prevention, and treatment.
As you can see, there’s much you can do to prevent periodontitis. It all begins with an excellent dental hygiene routine and scheduling 6-month checkups with your dentist.
Do you already have symptoms of gingivitis or periodontitis? Bleeding and tender gums may mean you’re in the early stages of gum disease. Sensitive teeth, loose teeth, and bad breath mean things are getting more serious.
Don’t wait another day to schedule an appointment with your dental team. We have a wide range of treatment options for all stages of periodontitis. Contact us today and let us help you care for your teeth!