AAP American Academy of Periodontology
Periodontists: How healthy smiles happen.
Periodontists are experts in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of gum disease, and in the surgical placement of dental implants.
Gum Disease Information
Symptoms of gum disease are often silent, meaning they may not appear until the advanced stages. If you have swollen gums or bleeding while brushing or flossing, you may have gum disease.
Gum Disease Symptoms
Gum disease is often silent, meaning symptoms may not appear until the advanced stages. However, warning signs of gum disease include the following:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums or other pain in your mouth
- Bleeding while brushing, flossing, or eating hard food
- Gums that are receding or pulling away from the teeth, causing the teeth to look longer than before
- Loose or separating teeth
- Pus between your gums and teeth
- Sores in your mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
- A change in the fit of partial dentures
Gum Disease Types
Gingivitis is the mildest form of periodontal disease. It causes the gums to become red, swollen, and bleed easily. There is usually little or no discomfort at this stage. Luckily, gingivitis is reversible with professional treatment and good at-home oral care.
Untreated gingivitis can advance to periodontitis. With time, plaque can spread and grow below the gum line. Toxins produced by the bacteria in plaque irritate the gums and stimulate a chronic inflammatory response in which the body essentially turns on itself, and the tissues and bone that support the teeth are broken down and destroyed. Gums separate from the teeth, forming pockets between the teeth and gums that can become infected. As the disease progresses, the pockets deepen and more gum tissue and bone are destroyed. Eventually, teeth can become loose and may fall out or need to be removed.
Periodontitis diagnosis is typically classified by stage and grade. After your periodontist conducts a thorough assessment of your unique case, he or she may assign a stage ranging from initial to severe that describes the acuteness of disease. Additionally, your periodontist may assign a grade which communicates the rate of disease progression and anticipated response to treatment.