Gum disease is an extremely common dental condition that affects nearly half of all American adults over the age of 30, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Chances are, what periodontal disease is, how it progresses, and how to treat it is likely going to be information you’ll need.
Here are the four stages of gum disease and how the experienced holistic dentistry staff at Green Dentistry can help you prevent and treat mild to advanced gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease and occurs in 3 out of 4 people and is the top cause of bleeding gums in adults, according to Crest. It’s also the only stage of periodontal disease that can be reversed; other stages have already begun to damage the underlying jawbone.
This condition is characterized by swollen or red gums, bleeding when brushing and flossing, bad breath, gum soreness, and teeth that are sensitive to heat or cold.
2. Slight Periodontal Disease
The second stage of periodontal disease is considered “slight,” and while not reversible, it can be managed with regular dental care. Untreated gingivitis progresses to the second stage of gum disease, where the infection spreads beyond the gum tissue and into the underlying bone.
Once bone tissue is destroyed, it cannot be regenerated. In severe cases, a bone graft can be done, which is a complex and involved procedure that requires multiple visits spanning over the course of several weeks.
The symptoms of the second stage of gum disease are similar to the first, including puffy, red, and painful gums, bad breath, and sensitive teeth. Bleeding during brushing and flossing also tends to get worse as the disease progresses.
However, you may not notice the difference between gingivitis and the next stage. This is gauged by your dentist, who measures the spaces between each tooth and gum with a probe. Gum tissue should be tight and pink, with the edge of the gums lightly adhering to the surface of the tooth below it.
If a dental professional can insert a probe underneath the gum line, this indicates gum disease. How deep the probe reaches indicates how far the disease has progressed; in cases of slight periodontal disease, probing depths generally range between 4 to 5 millimeters.
3. Moderate Periodontal Disease
Moderate periodontal disease, or the third stage, is generally characterized by the worsening of gingivitis symptoms and a probing depth of six to seven millimeters. By this time, the bacteria have moved far enough up into the jawbone to reach the bloodstream, where it begins to attack the rest of the body.
This is when gum disease begins to do more than permanent damage to the jawbone; it puts the overall health and wellness of the patient at risk. Harvard Health reports that patients with gum disease are two to three times more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event like a stroke or a heart attack than patients without gum disease.
Patients with existing cardiovascular conditions often premedicate with antibiotics before receiving a dental cleaning to preempt the bacteria that will be released into the bloodstream during the cleaning. Ideally, cleanings are frequent enough that bacteria levels are kept at a minimum and no “dump” into the bloodstream occurs.
4. Advanced Periodontal Disease
Advanced periodontal disease is the final stage of gum disease and is marked by severe bone and tooth loss. As the bacteria have continued to attack and destroy bone tissue without interference or treatment, the teeth begin to loosen at the root as they no longer have anything to “hang on to.”
Gums may bleed severely during this stage of periodontal disease, and infectious pus leaking from underneath the gums may also be visible. Chewing is often painful for patients at this advanced stage, and halitosis may be severe and unimpacted by toothpaste, mouthwash, or breath mints.
Generally, periodontal that has reached this stage require surgical intervention or laser therapy to reach the deepest areas where bacteria have collected. If this stage of gum disease is left untreated, you may notice your teeth start to loosen or that you develop gaps between the teeth.
You may need to have some or all of your teeth removed and get dental implants or dentures. Implants may not be an option for patients with severe bone loss who are poor candidates for a bone graft.
Periodontal Disease Prevention
Preventing gingivitis from progressing to more serious stages is relatively simple; good brushing and flossing habits at home paired with regular holistic dental care is likely to keep the worst of the bacteria at bay and prevent severe gingival infections.
However, because gum disease is statistically prevalent, prevention strategies may not be entirely effective and you may still need to seek treatment. That said, you can be confident that home dental care certainly prevented the conditioning from worsening more quickly.
How Is Gum Disease Treated Holistically?
Even though if left untreated, periodontal disease can be serious, the treatments that exist for the condition are safe and effective. A dental deep cleaning is a procedure that uses a variety of tools and technology to clean not only in the tight spaces between the teeth, but also up under the gum line where bacteria have begun to destroy the bone and enter the bloodstream.
At Green Dentistry, we utilize the latest ultrasonic and laser technology to break loose embedded food particles and break down plaque and tartar without damaging your sensitive gum tissue. This offers a more comprehensive cleaning than traditional dental tools that are used to scrape off tartar and plaque by hand.
We also have a safe antibiotic solution that may be applied in cases of severe periodontal disease where bacteria may be too far up under the gum line to reach, even with advanced cleaning tech.
Contact Green Dentistry Today for Your Dental Deep Cleaning Appointment
At Green Dentistry, Dr. Namrata Patel takes your oral and overall health seriously. We approach dental care from a holistic, whole-body perspective and offer a wide variety of natural, safe, and effective oral health treatments and preventative solutions that will keep you smiling.
Contact us today to book your appointment for an initial exam or to schedule a consultation for a deep clean by calling 415-840-8739.
A graduate of the University of Southern California and the University of California’s School of Dentistry, Dr. Patel is a leader in the movement to bring environmental sanity and well-being into the dental world. As a trusted dentist, Dr. Patel provides her patients with more than just world-class dental care — she helps them recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health. She is also a ForbesBooks and Amazon best-selling author.