Periodontitis is an advanced form of gum disease characterized by the progressive destruction of the soft tissues and bones that support the teeth. If left untreated, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss. Recognizing the stages of periodontitis early on can help you take measures to stop its progression and protect your oral health. In this blog post, we’ll look at the different stages of periodontitis and what to expect in each stage. We’ll also discuss how treatment options vary depending on the stage.
Gum Disease is More Complicated Than You Think
Gum disease (or periodontal disease) is an umbrella term that covers a range of conditions, from mild inflammation of the gums to advanced bone loss. Gum disease is a bacterial infection that affects the tissue and bone supporting the teeth. There are two main periodontal disease stages:
- Gingivitis, an early, mild stage of gum disease
- Periodontitis, a more serious, advanced stage of gum disease
Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth. Bacteria in plaque produce toxins that irritate the gums, causing them to become red, swollen, and prone to bleeding.
Gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, can be reversed with professional treatment and good oral hygiene at home. However, if it is not treated, the disease may progress to more advanced stages of periodontitis.
Stages of Periodontitis
Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease that can cause severe damage to the gums, jawbone, and other structures that support the teeth.
In a healthy mouth, the gums fit snugly around teeth. The normal depth of the space between teeth and gums is less than millimeters.
When periodontitis develops, the gums begin to pull away from teeth, resulting in deeper spaces between them. These spaces are known as periodontal pockets. Bacteria and other debris can accumulate in these pockets, leading to further inflammation and damage. This can cause teeth to shift, become loose, or even fall out.
There are three stages of periodontitis, which reflects the severity of the disease.
- Mild Periodontitis: In this stage, pockets between teeth and gums may be deeper than normal (4-5 mm). There is little or no bone loss at this stage.
- Moderate Periodontitis: At this stage, the pockets between teeth and gums are deeper (5-7 mm), and the bone that supports the teeth begins to break down. Also, the gums begin to recede, causing a less attractive smile because teeth appear longer.
- Severe Periodontitis: In this stage, the pockets between teeth and gums can become very deep (more than 7 mm), and severe bone loss occurs. As a result, the teeth may shift, become loose or fall out. Also, an abscess may form due to the ongoing infection.
Causes & Risk Factors for Gum Disease
Gum disease is primarily caused by poor oral hygiene; not brushing or flossing your teeth regularly. Plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) build-up, which causes inflammation of the gums and infection. Other factors can increase the risk of developing gum disease, including:
- Smoking or using other tobacco products
- Poor nutrition; diet lack of certain vitamins or minerals
- Hormonal changes; during pregnancy or menopause, for example
- Medications that decrease saliva production
- Certain illnesses, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS
- Stress; can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of gum disease
- Genetics; a family history of gum disease increases the risk
Symptoms Associated with Different Periodontitis Stages
The different stages of periodontitis can cause a variety of symptoms, including:
- Gums that bleed when flossing or brushing
- Swollen, red, or tender gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Pain when chewing.
- The development of spaces between teeth and gums
- Gum recession that exposes the root of a tooth
- A pocket of pus in the gums
- An odd taste in your mouth
- Loose or shifting teeth
- Changes in the way your bite fits together.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to contact your dentist as soon as possible to get an accurate diagnosis and begin treatment if needed. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to preventing further damage and preserving your oral health long-term.
How are The Different Stages of Periodontitis Treated?
The treatment aims to stop the progression of periodontitis from developing to more serious stages and treat damage already caused.
Treatment depends on the stage of periodontitis and can include:
- Scaling and root planing: This procedure is known as deep cleaning, which involves the removal of plaque and tartar from teeth’s surfaces; above and below the gum line. Then, smooth out rough spots on the root surfaces that can trap bacteria. This helps reduce the future accumulation of bacterial deposits.
- Antibiotic therapy: In cases where antibiotics are needed, they may be applied directly in deep pockets or administered through pills to help eliminate the infection.
- Surgery: In advanced stages of periodontitis, surgery may be required to repair damaged tissue and bone. Surgical procedures include flap surgery (osseous surgery), bone grafts, soft tissue grafts, gingivectomy, and gingivoplasty for periodontitis.
Treatment is done in conjunction with a good homecare routine, which includes brushing and flossing daily, and regular dental visits. Proper oral hygiene habits should be maintained to help reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease and its progression to later stages.
In addition, you should visit your dentist regularly, at least every six months, for check-ups and professional teeth cleaning. Your dentist or periodontist can detect the early stages of periodontitis and provide the appropriate treatment.
Periodontitis Stages – Conclusion
Periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease that causes the destruction of the gums, jawbone, and tissues that support teeth. It is a progressive condition, and if left untreated can lead to serious complications such as tooth loss.
By understanding the various periodontitis stages, you can take the necessary steps to stop its progression and protect your oral health and smile. Treatment depends on the severity of the condition, which may include non-surgical methods such as scaling and root planing or more invasive procedures like osseous surgery.
Proper oral hygiene is the main preventive measure for gum disease. That means brushing twice a day flossing daily, and visiting your dentist regularly. Your dentist or periodontist can detect the early stages of periodontitis and provide the appropriate treatment.