What is Gum Disease?
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is caused when bacteria in plaque (a sticky, colorless film that forms in the mouth) builds up between the gums and teeth. When the bacteria begin to grow, the gums surrounding the tooth can become inflamed and bleed. The four stages of gum disease — from least to most severe — are gingivitis, mild periodontitis, moderate periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. According to the American Heart Association, gum disease is linked to heart disease, diabetes, and pancreatic cancer.
Stages of Periodontal (Gum) Disease
- Gingivitis: Shallow pockets, no bone loss
- Early/Mild Periodontitis: Minor to moderate bone loss
- Moderate Periodontitis: Moderate to deep pockets, moderate to severe bone loss
- Advanced Periodontitis: Deep infected pockets, severe bone loss, advanced mobility patterns (usually cases involving missing teeth and reconstruction)
- Brush your teeth. Brushing after meals helps remove food debris and plaque trapped between your teeth and gums. Don’t forget to include your tongue, bacteria loves to hide there.
- Floss. Flossing at least once a day helps remove food particles and plaque between teeth, along the gum line, and behind the last tooth that your toothbrush can’t quite reach.
- Swish with mouthwash. Using a mouthwash can help reduce plaque and can remove remaining food particles that brushing and flossing missed. avoid alcohol-based mouthwash.
- Visit dentist regularly. A dentist will be able to recognize the early stages of gum disease and start treatment as needed.