Gums disease is an inflammation of the gum line that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. The three stages of gum disease — from least to most severe — are gingivitis, periodontitis and advanced periodontitis.
Gum disease can be painless, so it is important to be aware of any of the following symptoms:
Bacteria in plaque, a sticky, colorless film that constantly forms on your teeth, cause gum disease. If plaque is not removed it can harden and turn into tartar (calculus). Additionally, dental plaque will continue to form on the tartar. Brushing or flossing cannot remove tartar; a dental professional will need to conduct a dental cleaning to remove it.
If not removed through daily brushing and flossing, plaque turns into tartar, which becomes a rough and retentive surface encouraging further build up plaque. The plaque bacteria can infect your gums and teeth, and eventually, the gum tissue and bone that support the teeth will be impacted. There are three stages of gum disease:
Proper brushing and flossing go a long way toward keeping gum disease at bay. Using an antibacterial toothpaste or mouth rinse can kill bacteria and lessen the amount of plaque in your mouth. Removing dental plaque is the key to preventing gum disease and improved mouth health.
A professional cleaning by your dentist or dental hygienist is the only way to remove plaque that has built up and hardened into tartar. By scheduling regular checkups — twice a year — early stage gum disease can be treated before it leads to a much more serious condition.
If gum disease is more advanced, scaling and root planning can be performed to treat diseased periodontal pockets and gum infection. A dental hygienist uses an ultrasonic scaling device to remove plaque, tartar and food debris above and below the gum line, and hand scales the tooth and root surfaces to make them smooth and disease free. Laser treatments are also sometimes used to remove tartar deposits. If periodontal pockets are more than 5 millimeters deep, that is, if you have moderate to severe periodontitis, gingival flap surgery may be performed by a periodontist to reduce periodontal pockets, as well as bone grafting to restore lost bone.