Although it has three stages, gum disease is one continuous process. Each stage is characterized by what you see and feel in your mouth, and by what's happening under your gum line. Remember, even if you don't notice any symptoms, you may still have a form of periodontal disease, and it's possible to have more than one stage of gum disease around different teeth at one time.
Periodontal disease starts when tartar and bacteria under the gum line lead to infection (overgrowth of bacteria). As the body fights the infection, the gums become inflamed (irritated and swollen). Pockets form between tooth and gum, making plaque harder to remove. As the disease advances, bone damage occurs and can lead to tooth loss.
Stage 1 - Gingivitis
This is the mildest form of periodontal disease. The gum becomes inflamed. The space between gum and tooth deepens, forming a pocket. Gums may become red and swollen, or may bleed when probed. Or, there may be no symptoms. Gingivitis can often be reversed with dental cleanings and regular brushing and flossing. Left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis.
Stage 2 - Periodontitis
With periodontitis, infection and inflammation spread to the bone supporting the teeth. Ligaments break down and the gums may recede (shrink back). Pockets deepen and can be difficult to keep clean. Redness, swelling, and bleeding may develop or worsen. Bacteria multiply, and infection begins to destroy the bone. As bone is destroyed, teeth may start to feel loose.
Stage 3 - Advanced Periodontitis
As periodontitis advances, pockets deepen even more and can fill with pus. Around the roots of the teeth, the gums may start to swell. Bone loss continues. The teeth may feel sensitive to heat or cold, and may hurt when brushed. Teeth loosen due to loss of bone and ligament. In some cases, teeth may need to be removed to keep periodontal disease from spreading.
Gum disease may have more of an effect on your health... [continues]
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