Gum disease sequence of destruction
Healthy gum appears pink and firm. Brushing and flossing in the healthy stages of gum tissue will be a pleasant experience and there will be no bleeding. This is the phase that all gum tissue should be in if it is healthy and clean. Once gingivitis sets in (the beginning stages of gum disease), gums will take on a red and puffy look, and bleed easily upon brushing and flossing. Once gum disease progresses, the chances of returning to a healthy condition deceases drastically – once gum tissue has reached the advanced level, it is likely past of the point of no return and will result in tooth loss. Periodontal disease is the #1 reason of tooth loss.
Gingivitis, which is the early stage of gum disease, if treated professionally (with an implemented solid home care program), gum can return to be healthy again without further consequences. So how do we categorize the stages of gum disease (besides the clinical characteristics)? A bleeding index and dental radiographs help, along with periodontal probing depths, which are universally used as guide to diagnose and monitor the progress of the treatment and condition of gum disease. The periodontal probing depths are obtained with a read-out, by lightly inserting a needle (thin and finely marked instrument) sliding between the space between the gum and tooth.
Gingivitis, could have a normal pocket reading of 0 to 3 mm. Gum will be red, puffy, and tender, it will bleed easily and possibly exhibit bad breath and bad taste.
Early (mild) periodontitis will show a pocket reading range from 3 to 5 mm. At this stage, gum gets more tender, bleeds more easily, and there is always looming bad breath and bad taste. At this stage of gum disease, immediate attention and treatment is required if there is any chance of reversing the condition to an easily-manageable and healthy state.
Moderate Periodontitis is characterized by a periodontal pocket depth of 5-7mm. Gum tissue may become even redder and puffier, it will bleed easily, and bad breath and bad mouth taste are constant.Often times teeth may begin to look longer as gum tissue recedes, and gum boils or abscesses may develop. Front teeth may begin to drift apart showing space or becoming loose.
Advanced Periodotitis gets a pocket measurement of more than 7 millimeters, and may progress to 11 or 12 mm, indicating that bone and connective tissues have been continuously destroyed. This is the terminal stage of gum disease. If a patient has just been diagnosed with advanced periodontitis and the teeth are still firm (pockets are less than 9mm, with longer roots, and more localized condition), then there is possibility that with gum surgery and graft, bone regeneration still is possible. Keep in mind however, that the prognosis is guarded. In most situations, advanced periodontitis will result in tooth loss. Replacement implant therapy or other restorative options will be advised.
Remember that prevention is the best treatment, especially for gum disease. You are the person who can best take care of yourself, be disciplined with your home care program (including hygiene) and schedule regular check-ups with both your dentist and dental hygienist who can help you stay away of big problems.