Untreated gingivitis or swollen bleeding gums can turn into to periodontal disease which can lead to tooth loss and other health issues.
Gingivitis is the stage before periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. Patients usually have little or no discomfort at this stage. gingivitis is often caused by improper brushing and flossing. The good news is that gingivitis is completely reversible with regular visits to your dentist and good oral home care.
Other conditions can influence gingivitis, such as diabetes, smoking, aging, hormonal changes, systemic conditions, stress, and inadequate nutrition, to name a few.
Gingivitis that isn’t addressed by you and your doctor will most likely turn into Periodontitis. Over time, plaque spreads and grows below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque are harmful to the gums. The toxins produce a chronic inflammatory response in which the body attacks itself, breaking down the bone and tissues around the teeth. Pockets are formed between the teeth and the gums. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Initially, this process has very mild symptoms. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may have to be removed.
Periodontitis is mainly classified by the amount of bone loss that has occurred around the teeth.
1-2mm of bone loss
Most of the roots are still embedded in bone
3-4mm of bone loss
About 2/3 of the roots are still in bone
more than 5mm of bone loss
Only about ½ of the roots are still in bone
Severe Bone loss
Very little root structure is still in bone
Treating Periodontal Disease
Deep Cleaning or Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a cleaning technique to remove the plaque and build-up around the teeth that leads to bone loss. Similar to the barnacles that attach to the bottom of a boat, the buildup or calculus must be physically scraped off the teeth. Neither brushing, flossing or even regular dental cleanings are able to remove the calculus. The procedure usually takes 2 appointments to thoroughly remove the calculus.
After a deep cleaning (scaling and root planing), a thorough dental cleaning is usually recommended every 3-6 months until the symptoms subside. These cleaning appointments are called Periodontal Maintenance.