Obviously, people aren’t born with gum disease. So what exactly causes it, and how does gingivitis progress to periodontitis? Numerous factors play a role. The CDC estimates that fifty percent of Americans have periodontitis, so clearly there must be certain common factors.

Unfortunately, the leading cause of periodontitis is a lack of dental hygiene. Frequently neglected teeth allow food into the gum line, which lets plaque build up. Bacteria can then proliferate, making the gums bleed profusely. Even the slight touch of a bristle or strand of floss can trigger a red gush. There may be pain. With a proper routine, you can reverse the damage, but ignoring the earliest signs can lead to other problems.

The gingiva, or gums, are soft pieces of flesh that bacteria love to nestle in. But the gingiva recede once they have collected too much debris and house too many bacteria. A dental probe will indicate how advanced (deep) the inflammation is. As the gums pull back, the bleeding intensifies, and the gum line slowly begins to expose other parts of the teeth. You may experience cold or heat sensitivities, too. Now here’s the cool part: the final stage of gingivitis isn’t gingivitis. It’s periodontitis.

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Periodontitis starts off by loosening the attachment between the teeth and gum line. You’ll still have a full set of pearly whites, but they’ll increasingly recede downward, doubling any pain, bleeding, inflammation, and sensitivity. The disease continues to foster bacteria in the pockets of your gums, and as the pockets widen from the tissue decay, symptoms only grow worse.

During the later stages of gum disease, the gums detach from the teeth. You might feel the teeth literally moving in place. Pockets grow deeper, and bacteria migrate to the trenches of your roots where they infect and inflame. Pain levels are drastically higher, and minor movements of the jaw can induce crippling anguish. Failure to treat this stage can lead to the last and final frontier.

As the disease runs its course, the teeth decay and detachment takes place. Reversing the damage may be impossible because of bone and gum loss. Any remaining teeth will eventually come loose without intervention. Bacteria enter the bloodstream en masse, affecting organs like the heart. Plaque buildup in the arteries leads to atherosclerosis and subsequent heart failure.

Periodontitis causes a wide array of problems, which is why stopping the disease early is imperative. Daily flossing, brushing, and rinsing removes most of the dangerous plaque that accumulates in the gum line. Any bleeding or pain needs attention, and if symptoms remain after two weeks, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Ask about brushing and flossing techniques to improve gum health. Finally, don’t panic. Most people have problems with their gums, but few advance to the last stage. Keep smiling!
Sources: https://perio.org/consumer/cdc-study.htm

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Source: The Five Stages of Gum Disease

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