What Does Advanced Gum Disease Look Like?

It can happen to all of us at some point in our lives when something just doesn’t feel right. 

You might be experiencing an uncomfortable symptom, having a weird hunch that something is off, or just noticed something and started questioning yourself if this was there before. 

If you’re worried that your gums are left neglected, or you’re uncertain about whether your symptoms are severe, then you are probably wondering,

  • Do I really have gum disease? 
  • How advanced is it, and what stage of gum disease am I at? 
  • Can I stop its progress, or should I call my dentist immediately? 

Preserving a healthy smile needs effort, and caring for our oral health should be taken seriously. 

If you want to learn these answers and understand more about gum disease, then you should continue reading our article.  

Few Words About Periodontal Disease

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Periodontal (gum) diseases are mainly the result of infections and inflammation of the gums and bone that surround and support the teeth.”

The cause behind these infections is the bacteria inside our mouths. Poor hygiene practices and habits allow these bacteria to stay on our teeth and form dental plaque. As a result, plaque can harden more, leading eventually to tartar which is even harder to remove.

Depending on your stage, the symptoms can vary from minor irritation and bleeding to loosened teeth, severe pain, and tooth loss. 

Treatment options will be planned depending on the severity and progress of gum disease. For example, it might only take a proper cleaning routine at home, but also a prolonged dental surgery might be needed. 

So let’s better understand the evolution and severity of periodontal disease and what advanced gum disease looks like.

Stages of Gum disease

We usually categorize gum disease into two primary forms, gingivitis and periodontitis. 

Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease in which someone might experience a few of the most common symptoms—swollen and tender gums. Τhe inflammation irritates your gums, making them appear in a bold red colour or bleed sometimes.

In this early form, people might start thinking something is wrong and seek dental assistance. However, neglecting this situation is common since the symptoms are not severe and usually pain is not associated. 

The recommended approach here is a thorough home cleaning process, which means regular and proper brushing and flossing. A professional cleaning from your dentist or dental hygienist to evaluate and improve the situation is also recommended. 

Remember that gingivitis is reversible, so keep caring for your teeth at home regularly and adequately. 

Periodontitis

Periodontitis is commonly known as advanced gum disease. It’s the most severe type due to the serious infection involved.

Soft tissues can be damaged, and your gums might get pulled away. In addition, especially when left untreated, bone can be lost, and teeth may loosen or even fall off. 

But we do not observe all these symptoms all at once from the beginning. Instead, we categorize periodontitis into further stages, early, moderate, and advanced, to better monitor the damages and follow the treatment needed.

Early or Initial Periodontitis

This early stage of periodontitis is where any untreated gingivitis, will progress into. However, you may not notice many different symptoms in this phase.

Bleeding might worsen as your gums become more inflamed, but severe symptoms or pain are usually absent. 

We should highlight here that early periodontitis is not reversible and needs treatment. The plaque has already hardened and probably formatted into tartar and can’t be removed at home. 

You should book your dental appointment for deep professional cleaning at this stage, so plague or tartar get removed. And don’t forget to ask for advice on how to improve your cleaning routine at home.

Moderate Periodontitis

As periodontitis progresses, it results in dental pocket formation (the space created between your teeth and gum after the tissue begins to pull away from the teeth).

In this phase, we observe more severe damage to your inflamed gums, more of your teeth’s enamel is exposed (with a higher risk of decay), and the larger pockets are an even better place for bacteria to grow and hide. 

The deeper the pocket gets, the more extensive the damage to your teeth’s surrounding area will be. Now, the biggest threat is towards your tissue and bone, and you might observe your gums receding more, teeth start getting loose, and some bone might be lost. 

In this phase, the damages are more visible than the early periodontitis. Your doctor should choose the best treatment options for you since moderate periodontitis can’t be reversed, and the damage here is usually permanent.

Advanced Periodontitis

Advanced periodontitis is the most severe form untreated gum disease can lead to, and in this stage, more drastic measures should be taken since your teeth and health are in danger. 

In this stage, the damage is extensive, and the infection progresses in the jawbone, with a significant potential of tooth loss if it hasn’t started yet. 

We’ve reached a point where teeth don’t get the support they need that even healthy teeth might feel loose, one or even a few might have already fallen off, and even chewing might be impractical. 

Advanced periodontal disease should be treated by the right dental professionals (periodontists and other specialists). It is vital to get proper treatment as soon as possible since your teeth and overall health are threatened. 

Damaged teeth that can’t be saved will be removed; surgery might be necessary to restore your oral health, and restorative dental solutions like dental implants or dentures will be applied.

All these might sound scary, but even in this stage, things are manageable if someone asks for help. So we always say to our patients here at the Swedish Dental Clinic that you should consult your dentist as soon as something worries you. 

But even if you still haven’t taken action to improve your symptoms, you should never be afraid. 

Book your consultation appointment as the first step to understanding your needs, and your doctor will ensure to offer you what you need.