Chew On This! Understanding And Treating The 4 Stages Of Gum Disease

27 May 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


From professional cleanings and porcelain veneers to LED whitening and orthodontics, the various dental treatments available may seem overwhelming. These treatments may improve the overall look of your smile, but they rarely improve the underlying health of your mouth, teeth, and gums. Unfortunately, certain dental disorders affect both the look of your smile and the overall health of your teeth and gums. Considering an estimated 47.2 percent of Americans have mild, moderate, or severe periodontitis, understanding the dental disorder is smart.

Also known as gum disease, periodontitis may affect you in different stages. Using this guide on the 4 stages of gum disease, your dentist can diagnose and help you treat the condition.


Plaque builds up on your teeth quickly without proper brushing and periodic cleanings by your dentist. Over time, the plaque spreads, causing bacteria to form over your teeth and across your gums and gum line. This early stage of gum disease is known as gingivitis. In most cases, gingivitis causes the following symptoms:

  • Tender, Sore Gums
  • Light Bleeding in Gums While Brushing
  • Receding Gums
  • Bad Breath
  • Foul Taste in Mouth

Fortunately, treating gingivitis before it progresses is possible. Visit your dentist for a detailed cleaning to remove plaque buildup. Also, brushing at home is essential to prevent further buildup of plaque.

Early Periodontitis

If left untreated, gingivitis will progress to an early form of periodontitis. In this early stage of periodontitis, you will experience the same discomfort in your gums. In addition, even a slight amount of pressure to your gums will cause bleeding.

During this stage of periodontitis, you will notice a heavier buildup of plaque, more gum inflammation, and a creation of deep pockets in the gum tissue. Plaque causes bacteria to build up inside these pockets, leading to infections and early tooth decay.

After completing a thorough cleaning, your dentist will need to treat infections with prescription antibiotics. If the infection has spread to your tooth's root, a complete extraction may be necessary.

Moderate Periodontitis

With moderate periodontitis, you will experience tender, inflamed gums, bleeding, tooth discoloration from the excessive buildup of plaque, and a more involved form of decay. Many patients with moderate periodontitis have damage to the bone and tissue holding their teeth in place. This damage will cause one or more teeth to become loose, requiring involved restoration treatments.

To prevent further damage, a dental scaling procedure must be conducted to remove heavy buildup of plaque and bacteria on your teeth. Ultrasonic instruments chip away at your teeth to remove the plaque before it spreads further. This dental scaling offers a more precise plaque removal since it targets the gum line and can get more of the plaque/

Severe Periodontitis

Treating gingivitis early is key to avoiding the painful problems of severe periodontitis. However, gum disease progresses quickly, so you may be suffering with the following symptoms of severe periodontitis:

  • Severely Swollen Gums
  • Advanced Gum Receding
  • Painful Gums
  • Bleeding in Multiple Spots of Gums
  • Loose Teeth or Tooth Loss
  • Infections
  • Bad Breath
  • Foul Taste in Mouth

Treating an advanced case of gum disease requires multiple steps including cosmetic treatments to repair the damage caused by gum disease. Removing the damaged gum tissue is necessary to treat severe periodontitis, but surgery is not your only option. For a safer, less-invasive method of removing damaged gum tissue, opt for Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure, or LANAP. Utilizing lasers to vaporize and remove damaged gum tissue, LANAP treats infections, prevents further tooth decay, and repairs your damaged gum line.

Proper oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist are imperative for preventing gum disease, but treating the condition is possible. Using this guide, you will understand the dangers of and the treatment options for periodontal disease.