September 30, 2018
When you’re talking about periodontal disease, you’re talking about a disease that affects the surrounding supporting structures of the teeth. “Peri” is a prefix meaning “around” and “dontal” refers to the teeth. But this term is still relatively broad and can vary in severity and depending on what stage of periodontal disease you have. In this blog, we’re going to help clarify the different stages of periodontal disease in the hopes of making you more aware of your own oral health.
Periodontal disease starts with gingivitis, a condition characterized by inflamed, swollen, and bleeding gums. The gums may be perpetually swollen or come in bouts. Gingivitis may make it difficult to brush or floss adequately because the gums will feel sore and sensitive. Gingivitis starts when bacteria forms at the gumline and eventually forms into plaque and then tartar. This is why all oral health specialists will tell you to brush close to the gums because once the bacteria starts to build, it becomes much more difficult to remove by simply brushing or flossing.
The second stage of periodontal disease is periodontitis. This stage is much more serious and much less common than gingivitis and is where the infection starts to damage the supporting structures of your teeth like your periodontal ligament, tooth root, and jawbone. Another thing that may happen during this stage is what’s called a periodontal pocket. This is essentially an opening between your gums and the tooth allowing bacteria and food particles to enter, making the disease progress even faster. In this stage, procedures like perioscopy can be used to diagnose issues below the gumline and lay out a treatment plan that’s as non-invasive as possible. Although the damage that’s done from periodontitis is usually permanent, you still have the opportunity to save your teeth if you act quickly.
Advanced periodontitis is the most serious form of periodontal disease where tooth loss is a serious threat. The damage done to the teeth is almost always irreversible and most patients will begin to notice loose or shifting teeth. Tooth extraction is usually the next best step and you should speak with your periodontist immediately to determine what your next steps should be.
It’s important to remember that once you’ve reached advanced periodontitis, you’re also at a higher risk of developing a systemic disease such as cardiovascular or heart disease. The threat of advanced periodontitis extends far beyond tooth loss.
Contact Pacific Northwest Periodontics
Even if you are just experiencing the early signs of periodontal disease, you should always be prepared to contact a certified periodontist in your area. Our Seattle periodontists not only specialize in treating periodontal disease but a whole host of other oral health issues. If you have ever lost a tooth or gotten one extracted due to periodontal disease, we strongly recommend having the tooth replaced with a dental implant. This procedure is safe and is the most effective long-term replacement option for natural teeth.