What are the Stages of Gum Disease?

Gum inflammation, or gingivitis, is the early phase of gum disease. Bacteria, which are built up in plaque, causes inflammation of the gums and leads to irritation.

Blood present during brushing is a likely early indicator of gingivitis. Although the gums are inflamed during the early stages of gingivitis, the damage is reversible. Left untreated, gingivitis leads to periodontitis, the more advanced stage of gum disease.

As periodontitis progresses, the gums and bone pull away from the teeth. This separation causes pockets to form. As those pockets collect debris, they become infected.

Plaque then spreads below the gum line, which causes the body to fight back. Enzymes from the body’s response and bacteria in the plaque break down the tissue holding the teeth, which causes the pockets to deepen. As the pockets deepen, the gum tissue, teeth, and bones are destroyed.

Gum disease leads to poorly anchored teeth and is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.

Common causes of gum disease include:

  • Excessive plaque build-up over time
  • Hormone changes due to pregnancy, monthly menstruation, puberty, and menopause
  • A weakened immune system resulting from an illness, such as HIV
  • Diabetes
  • Medications which lower the production of saliva, like anticonvulsants, or cause growth of gum tissue, like anti-anginas
  • Bad oral hygiene (not brushing and flossing daily
  • Smoking
  • Genetics

Symptoms of gum disease are often subtle and painless. Gum disease is most prevalent in the molars, and may be confined to certain teeth. These aspects of gum disease are easily caught by the trained eye of Dr. Fleschler.

During your regularly scheduled dental cleanings, Dr. Fleschler will inspect your gums to ensure they are firm, have proper color and spacing, aren’t bleeding or swollen, and don’t have pockets. She will also check your teeth and jawbone for signs of early stage gum disease.

Please contact Dr. Heather Fleschler using the form at the right side of the page or call (713) 660-6500 today to schedule a dental checkup and teeth cleaning. We serve patients in the Houston, Texas areas of West University, Bellaire, Meyerland, and River Oaks.

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