If you’ve recently been diagnosed with periodontal disease, also known as gum disease or periodontitis, you’re not alone. In fact, gum disease is so prevalent that about 85% of American adults are believed to have some form of it.
Fortunately, it is easily treatable in its early stages, but taking swift action is imperative. Untreated gum disease can lead to a whole host of issues not only affecting your oral health but your overall health, as well. Read on to learn more about periodontitis and why you should seek treatment for it as soon as possible.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums and eventually of the bones connected to the support and functionality of your teeth. It’s caused by a buildup of germs in the gums, usually due to poor oral hygiene, and its early stages are typically marked by redness, swelling, and gum bleeding.
Stages of Gum Disease
Untreated gum disease begins with only mild to moderate symptoms; however, the disease is progressive. Eventually, without medical care, gum disease will lead to more serious health issues, including painful chewing, loose teeth, and even tooth loss. Below are the four major stages of gum disease.
This stage is really a precursor to gum disease and is the only stage that can be reversed. With gingivitis, the gums have already become infected, but the infection has yet to spread to the bones. Oftentimes, symptoms do not affect patients adversely, and therefore the issue can go ignored for extended periods of time. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day can help to prevent gingivitis, and regular dental exams can help to treat it.
Slight Periodontal Disease
Once the infection has progressed to the bones, gum disease is considered a slight periodontal disease and is no longer reversible. The issue can still be managed with regular scaling and root planing procedures from your dentist, but the infection cannot be totally removed.
Moderate Periodontal Disease
In moderate periodontal disease, there are more bacteria than in the previous stage, and they have found their way deeper into the bones and into the bloodstream. At this stage, the disease can still be treated with scaling and root planing, but the cleaning must be more thorough.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
Once periodontitis has progressed far enough to be considered advanced, it can begin to cause a number of issues, such as severe halitosis (bad breath), painful biting and chewing, bone loss, tooth loss, and more. Treatment for this stage of periodontal disease requires surgery or laser therapy.
The Risks of Untreated Gum Disease
As you can see, gum disease may be an issue that’s easy to ignore at first, but it can eventually progress into something far more serious. Avoiding treatment for periodontitis can cause gaps in your teeth, receding gums, sensitive teeth, mouth sores, chronic bad breath, and tooth loss. Gum disease has also been connected to an array of serious health issues, such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and more.
The risks of leaving your gingivitis untreated are many, and getting treatment is simple, easy, and relatively painless. Contact your dentist today to schedule a check-up and routine cleaning, and you’ll never have to worry about untreated gum disease again.