If you’ve ever had cavities, you know how painful they can be. But what if your mouth was in that kind of pain every day?

That’s a reality for many people with advanced periodontitis (gum disease). While it’s not always easy to identify this condition on your own, there are ways to tell if you’re experiencing the first stages of gum disease — and it’s critical to understand them so you can seek treatment on time!


Stage 1: Gingivitis

The first stage of gum disease is often silent — you may not notice that you have it. However, if you’re experiencing symptoms like swollen and/or bleeding gums, you may have gingivitis.

Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that’s caused by plaque buildup — a sticky film that builds up on your teeth, made of bacteria, food particles, and other debris. Plaque can harden into tartar, which is very difficult to remove with brushing and flossing alone.

Inflammation from buildup can cause redness and swelling of your gums. Left untreated, gingivitis can advance to more serious forms of gum disease.

The good news is that at this stage, gum disease is reversible. It can be treated with a professional cleaning and good at-home oral hygiene. If you think you may have gingivitis, it’s time to visit your periodontist!

Stage 2: Early Periodontitis

At this stage, the infection has already spread to the bone and has begun to cause damage. You’ll notice some of these symptoms:

  • Painful and bleeding gums
  • Even more swollen and red gums
  • Bad breath (halitosis)

If your periodontist notices that your gums have probing depths that are between 4 and 5 millimeters, they will likely recommend a deep cleaning, also known as scaling/root planing (SRP). This is a non-surgical procedure that removes bacteria and plaque from beneath your gum line, allowing your gums to heal.

Stage 3: Moderate Periodontitis

Although similar to early periodontitis, moderate periodontitis is characterized by probing depths greater than 6 millimeters.

Moderate periodontitis can also be identified by the loss of bone around the tooth, which may lead to shifting teeth or even tooth loss. At this stage the bacteria attacks the bone supporting your teeth and it can enter your bloodstream, which is known to have a direct correlation with your immune system.

At this phase, specialized periodontal treatments like GBR (Guided Bone Regeneration) may be needed to help restore your bone structure.

Stage 4: Advanced Periodontitis

Advanced periodontitis occurs when the infection gets even worst, leading to a higher risk of bone and tooth loss. At this point, pain, tooth sensitivity, swelling, and other symptoms worsen. Your gums may exude pus and you may experience severe bad breath.

Advanced periodontitis requires advanced treatment, such as surgical procedures performed by an experienced periodontist.


Preventing gum disease is simple

Periodontal disease can be prevented by ensuring you brush and floss every day. It’s also crucial to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol.

Additionally, don’t forget your regular check-ups. This will allow your dentist to examine your gums periodically and check for any signs of gum disease. If any problems are found, they can recommend treatments according to your particular situation.


Treatment options for gum disease

As you can see, treatment varies according to how advanced your gum disease is. Some options include:

Laser gum therapy (LANAP): Helps regrow healthy gum tissue using laser technology.
Guided tissue regeneration and guided bone regeneration: Highly effective in regenerating tissue and bone damaged by advanced periodontitis.

Osseous surgery: Eliminates deep pockets caused by advanced periodontitis by removing and reshaping damaged bone and tissue.
Deep cleaning: Known as Scaling and Root Planing (SRP), this procedure can help stop gum disease in its tracks during its early stages.

If you are interested in learning more about these treatments and how they can help you, our team at Atlanta Center for Advanced Periodontics can answer all your questions!

What you need to know

Gum disease can be very painful and lead to many problems, not just in your mouth but your overall health. You can prevent gum disease by taking care of your oral health and keeping an eye on any unfamiliar symptoms.

If you have any questions about periodontal disease or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our periodontists, please contact us today. We’d love to help you keep your gums and mouth healthy!