With regular visits to the dentist and good oral care habits, you are not likely to suddenly develop gum disease. However, if you haven't been diligent with your routine, you may be experiencing it. This type of disease is a progressive condition, which means it occurs in stages. Gingivitis is the initial stage of this disease, but you can prevent this from worsening if you seek help from a dentist. Here are several things you should understand about gingivitis and gum disease.
What Are the Stages of Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a condition that can cause you to lose your teeth if left untreated, and there are three main stages of this disease. The first stage is called gingivitis. This initial stage occurs when too much plaque builds up on your gum lines.
Plaque is something that can develop on your teeth from the food you eat, but you can usually remove most of this if you brush your teeth twice daily. When the plaque begins building up in these areas of your mouth, it can begin to affect your gums. Plaque on your teeth leads to cavities, while plaque on your gums leads to gum disease.
If you do not get help for your gingivitis, you may end up developing periodontitis, which is the second stage of gum disease. During this stage, the plaque can get deeper inside your gums, which can lead to pockets forming in your gums. These pockets can trap food and debris, which can lead to infections forming in your mouth.
The third stage of gum disease is called advanced periodontitis, and this is the worst type of gum disease you can have. It takes a long time for gingivitis to develop into this stage of gum disease, but this is the stage you will really want to avoid. If you develop this stage, you could end up losing some or all of your teeth.
How Can You Tell If You Have Gingivitis?
Visiting a dentist is the best way to find out if you have gingivitis, and you may want to schedule an appointment to have a dentist look at your gums if you are experiencing the following symptoms:
- Your gums are swollen and red
- You notice bleeding after you brush your teeth
- Your gums appear to be receding or changing in some way
- You feel a lot of sensitivity with your teeth
A dentist will be able to diagnose gingivitis by examining your teeth and gums and by measuring your gums. The dentist may use a small probe to determine the measurements of the pockets in your gums. If the measurements are less than 3 millimeters deep, you do not have gum disease. If they are deeper than this, it is an indication of gum disease.
What Can Your Dentist Do to Treat Gingivitis?
If gum disease is detected at an early stage, it will be considered gingivitis. Gingivitis is completely treatable, and the treatment methods are relatively simple compared to the methods required for treating the other stages of gum disease.
The main method used to treat this initial stage of gum disease is scaling and root planing. Scaling is a process used during teeth cleaning, and it involves scraping the plaque from the gum lines on the teeth. It may also involve cleaning the areas just under the gums. Root planing involves scraping even further into the gums to even out rough areas found on the roots of your teeth.
If you wait too long to treat gingivitis, it will only get worse, and the treatment options will be much more involved and complicated. If you are experiencing any problems with your teeth and gums, contact a dentist from an office like Northwest Dental Services and Implant Center today to schedule an appointment.