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What is Gum Disease?

added on: May 20, 2024

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a progressive oral health disorder of the mouth and gums that develops in stages. Initially, it presents as gingivitis. Caught early, this stage can be reversed with proper treatment.

Once gum disease advances, it’s referred to as periodontitis. At this stage, damage to the gum tissue and underlying bone is more likely to be permanent.

Almost half of adults ages 30 and older have some stage of gum disease, and this number rises to just over 70% in adults 65 and older. Understanding the symptoms of periodontal disease and how to prevent and treat it are key to keeping your oral health in optimal shape.

How Gum Disease Can Affect Your Body

Gum disease not only causes issues orally, it can also carry over to your body’s well-being. The connection between gum health and your overall wellness begins with the inflammation of the gums. Left untreated, this inflammation breaks down tissue and can deteriorate your jawbone.

When inflammation is present anywhere in the body, your immune system is put on alert. Once white blood cells have been activated to fight off infection, the immune response can put patients at an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and other health complications.

The Stages of Gum Disease

One of the earliest signs of gum disease is bleeding when brushing or flossing. Some patients may even notice blood spotting when eating. The initial stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis, typically manifests in symptoms such as swollen and painful gums.

Talk to your dentist if you’ve noticed any of the above symptoms. This is an opportune time for intervention, which can help stall or even reverse the progression of disease in some cases.

Periodontitis can be described as early, moderate, and advanced to cover the remaining stages of gum disease. Early periodontitis is when the plaque hardens to tartar, which leads to tooth decay. Receding gums, decaying teeth, and a foul-tasting discharge from the gums are all signs of moderate periodontitis.

Advanced periodontitis is the final stage of gum disease. It is when patients are at risk of losing teeth and suffering from infections that can affect the jawbone. Chronic pain is often associated with this stage.

Gum Disease Treatment Options

Prevention is the best medicine. However, acting quickly is the second best option for treating gum disease and halting further progression. Once periodontitis reaches more severe stages, it cannot be reversed.

Depending on the stage of gum disease, nonsurgical options such as routine cleanings, scaling and root planing, and antibiotic therapy may be used. Patients at an advanced stage may require surgical intervention, such as pocket reduction surgery, bone grafting, and tissue regeneration.

Periodontics in Lancaster & Ephrata 

If you’ve noticed symptoms of early gum disease, schedule an appointment today at (717) 482-6542. smilebuilderz is happy to offer non-surgical and surgical periodontal care from two of the area’s leading periodontists.


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