Contrary to the popular belief, gum disease is not only a Phoenix karaoke of gums. Rather, it is an inflammation and / or infection of the dental tissues that can affect teeth and, in severe cases, even the bone that holds your teeth in their sockets. Medically or clinically known as periodontal disease, the term “gum disease” is often synonymously used with the term “gingivitis” and “periodontitis”.
The following article is intended to give you some basic insights of the gum disease and also focuses on the key differences between the various stages of the same. However, to better understand the development and progression of gum disease, it is crucial that you first understand the following basic terminologies that play a central role in all types and stages of gum disease:
Plaque: Also known as dental plaque, it is the thin, sticky layer film that consists of bacteria, debris and food particles. If not removed on regular basis, it will continue to accumulate on teeth surface and will cause gum disease and tooth decay.
Calculus (Tartar): It is the hardened and rigid form of plaque that may result if the gum disease is not treated early.
Causes and risk factors of gum disease
While plaque (and bacteria) is considered the main cause of gum disease, other risk factors such as chewing tobacco, malnutrition, alcohol consumption, smoking, higher levels of stress and certain drugs may also act as contributing or aggravating factors.
Classification of gum disease
On the basis of its severity, area involved and associated complications, gum disease can be further subdivided into the following stages or types:
1st stage (Gingivitis)
Clinically known as gingivitis (gingival = gums, itis = inflammation), the first stage of gum disease simply refers to the inflammation of your gums. In the early or first stage of gum disease, bacteria-laden plaque builds up gradually, eventually irritating the gums. It has been suggested that this irritation is caused due to the toxins released by the accumulated bacteria. As a result, gum becomes inflamed, may swell, redden and bleed quickly and easily while brushing the teeth.
Characteristics of 1st stage
• Calculus along your sensitive gum line is changed into a rough surface on which plaque accumulates.
• Tender, red, sore, and bleeding gums
• Bad breath may or may not be present.
• Spaces between the gum and tooth (periodontal pockets) may exist (though not always) due to the damages caused to the periodontal fibers that hold the gums tightly against the teeth.
• No underlying bone is involved or damaged
• This is relatively a mild form of gum disease and is easily reversible if treated early and properly
Second stage (Periodontitis)
If the first stage is left untreated, the second stage often results in which the plaque turns into hard tartar which would not be removed by brushing alone. Also known as Periodontitis, it is a moderately severe form of gum disease which requires aggressive treatment.