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Progression of Periodontal Disease

Jeffrey Felzer, DMD, operates a private periodontal practice in Wilmington, Delaware. Committed to helping his patients achieve optimal tooth and gum health, Dr. Jeffrey Felzer shares information with patients about the stages and symptoms of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease, or disease of the gums, begins as gingivitis. This occurs when infectious plaque enters the space between and around the teeth, where they cause infection of the gum tissue.

Gingivitis is the least severe form of gum disease in that there is no bone loss. There is swelling and redness of the gums, and patients may notice bleeding when flossing. This condition is treatable and fully reversible if identified before the disease progresses.

If left untreated, however, gingivitis can progress to the point that inflammation worsens and begins to destroy the surrounding bone. Bone loss increases as infection causes the gum pockets to deepen. Gums become redder and there is bleeding when the teeth are brushed or flossed, though the patient is still unlikely to experience pain.
Patients with this mild to moderate periodontal disease must receive a deep cleaning and regular monitoring. If this does not occur, infection is likely to worsen and lead to bone loss of up to 90 percent.
At that severe stage of the disease, patients may experience frequent abscesses and spontaneous draining of blood or pus. Pain when chewing becomes increasingly probable, as does sensitivity to cold and increased tooth mobility. In time, the patient may lose teeth and require dentures.

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