4 Signs of Early Stage Periodontitis

Periodontal disease1, also known as gum disease, happens to those who don’t follow good oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene results in plaque buildup around the teeth and if not treated results in advanced periodontitis which leads to swollen gums and tooth loss.

Periodontal disease results in the damage of soft tissue and if left untreated, this gum disease can have adverse effects on health.

However, knowing the signs of early stage periodontitis protects you from suffering from this disease in the advanced stage.

So without any further ado, let us understand the gum disease in detail then.

What is Periodontitis? Treatments, Signs, and Symptoms | Oral-B

1. What is the Difference Between Gingivitis and Periodontitis?

Before we share the signs of early-stage periodontitis, let us first answer a common query. People often are not able to recognize the symptoms of periodontitis from gingivitis and therefore fail to provide the required treatments and causing the worsening of the condition.

The disease gingivitis2 can be considered to be one of the signs of early-stage periodontitis, but it does not always lead to serious gum disease or periodontitis if treated properly.

Gingivitis is caused when one does not follow good oral hygiene habits. The neglected routine results in the formation of plaque and tartar which leads to the inflammation of gums and bleeding while brushing.

These symptoms are the signs of early-stage periodontitis3 and if not treated properly can lead to advanced periodontal disease which can cause tooth loss as well as bone loss.

These signs of early-stage periodontitis can be prevented if one brush, floss, and visit their dentist routinely.

Furthermore, gingivitis can be prevented whereas periodontitis can worsen into serious gum disease. This gum disease causes gums and bones to pull away which leads to the formation of pockets between the teeth.

These pockets, then, become a place for the bad bacteria to grow which slowly leads to receding gums and teeth loss.

2. Symptoms of Periodontitis

Signs of early stage periodontitis
Courtesy – Pexels

Some of the signs of early-stage periodontitis that shouldn’t be ignored are:

  • Having bad breath
  • Experiencing a bad taste in your mouth that is impossible to get rid of
  • Painful chewing
  • Having plaque or tartar buildup in your teeth
  • Your gums may bleed
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing
  • Developing pockets between the teeth
  • Experiencing teeth loss
  • Can experience inflammation in teeth gums

3. Signs of Early Stage Periodontitis

The signs of early stage periodontitis start with gingivitis and if not treated properly can proceed to its advanced stage.

3.1. Gingivitis (First Phase)

It is one of the signs of early stage periodontitis when you notice a buildup of plaque on your teeth. Plaque on your teeth can be removed if you brush and floss properly. Plaque if not removed develops into tartar that becomes difficult to get rid of.

The symptoms and signs of early stage periodontitis are painless and often ignored.

3.2. Second Phase

In this phase, your immune system starts to deal with a dental infection. Your gums pull away from your teeth and pockets are formed between teeth and gum. You need to see your dentist immediately at this stage.

Some of the symptoms of the second phase of gum disease which can be experienced are bone loss, gum that bleeds when you brush your teeth or loss.

Signs of early stage periodontitis
Courtesy – Pixabay

3.3. Third Phase

It is considered one of the moderate phases of periodontitis4. The symptoms of this phase are the same as the symptoms of the previous phase and include teeth loss, bone loss, sensitive teeth and gums, and bad breath.

Treatment options for this phase include scaling and root planing. You need the help of professional specialists to clean the bacteria that has been accumulated between your teeth and gum.

3.4. Fourth Phase

It is one of the advanced phases of periodontitis where bone, tissue, gum that holds your teeth in place starts deteriorating.

It is at this phase where people with periodontal disease need surgery to clean the pockets that have been formed due to the increased space between gum and teeth.

Some of the warning signs of the advanced phase of gum disease are experiencing pain when chewing, teeth loss, and inflammatory gum.

The stages of periodontal disease

4. What are the Risk Factors for Periodontitis?

Some of the factors that increase the risk of periodontitis are

4.1. Not Following Proper Oral Hygiene

Having improper oral health care can increase the risk of periodontitis, especially if you don’t brush your teeth twice a day, floss, or use mouthwash properly.

Having regular dental checkups also helps to keep your gums and teeth healthy.

4.2. With Age the Risk of Having Periodontitis Increases

Yes, you heard it right! According to the reports, aged people are more likely to suffer from periodontitis. With age, the immune system becomes weaker causing older people to suffer more.

Receding gums are a common problem in older people where the gum tissue pulls away from the teeth. This is when the pockets are formed where bacteria build up causing infection in gums and teeth.

Signs of early-stage periodontitis are often ignored or not noticeable unless those proceed to their advanced stage.

So, getting regular dental checkups is necessary to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Source – Shutterstock

4.3. Hormonal Changes Increase the Possibility of Periodontitis

Females are most likely to suffer from periodontitis due to the hormonal changes they experience. The changes in hormone levels increase the supply of blood to the gum tissue making teeth and gums more sensitive.

Changes in hormone levels are seen during puberty when the gum tissue reacts indifferently to dental plaque due to the increased blood supply. This change causes red and inflammatory gum tissue.

Gum diseases are also noticeable during monthly menstruation when changes in hormone levels can cause infection in the mouth leading to swollen gums.

Changes in gum are also noticeable during pregnancy when hormonal changes increase the risk of dental plaque so, visiting professional specialists for cleaning teeth is necessary.

Several oral health problems are more likely to be noticeable during menopause when women can suffer from dry mouth. Dry mouth is another reason that can increase the possibility of having periodontitis in females.

4.4. Obesity Can Also Increase the Possibility of Gum Disease

Obese people develop several health problems such as diabetes or high blood pressure. They can also suffer from dental problems, as they tend to have foods high in carbohydrates and sugar.

These food particles combine with the bacteria and diseases like periodontitis.

5. Treatment Options for Periodontitis

Besides maintaining proper oral hygiene, there are also various treatment methods for periodontitis.

Some of the methods for early periodontitis that doesn’t require surgery are:-

5.1. Scaling and Root Planing

Signs of early stage periodontitis
Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0

The dentist uses the scaling method to remove plaque and tartar from teeth and below the gumline.

The root planing method is used to smoothen the rough surface on teeth roots removing bacteria buildup within the surface.

5.2. Oral Medications

If the dentist notices the signs of early stage periodontitis, then the dentist prescribes oral medications such as mouthwash or antibiotic gels to reduce the pocket size or to get rid of harmful bacteria.

Other treatment options for the advanced phase of periodontitis that includes surgery are:

5.3. Flap Surgery

Periodontal flap approach surgery - Lapointe dental centres

The dentist performs this surgery to remove tartar within the pockets or to reduce the size of the pockets.

This procedure is performed by lifting the tissue of the gum, and the plaque is removed.

After the removal of tartar, the gum is stitched back to its place.

5.4. Bone and Tissue Grafting

Soft tissue grafting is a procedure done by the dentist on people who suffer from gum recession. This procedure is done by taking soft tissue from the palate and then stitching it to the place that has been affected.

This procedure also helps in reducing tooth sensitivity. Bone grafting is a procedure done by the dentist on people who experiences bone loss due to severe gum disease.

This procedure is done by using your own bone fragments or donated bone. This procedure helps to prevent further tooth loss and helps the bone to grow.

Soft tissues grafting - Lapointe dental centres

Prevention is always better than cure and therefore, one should always maintain proper oral hygiene even after receiving treatments for periodontitis5, as there is a higher possibility of suffering from the disease again.

Also, if you notice any plaque or tartar buildup or any other signs of early stage periodontitis, then you should immediately take the required steps and prevent it to proceed into the advanced stage.

  1. Williams, Ray C. “Periodontal disease.” New England Journal of Medicine 322.6 (1990): 373-382. ↩︎
  2. Page, Roy C. “Gingivitis.” Journal of Clinical Periodontology 13.5 (1986): 345-355. ↩︎
  3. Cafiero, Carlo, et al. “Predictive periodontitis: the most promising salivary biomarkers for early diagnosis of periodontitis.” Journal of clinical medicine 10.7 (2021): 1488. ↩︎
  4. Ebersole, Jeffrey L., et al. “Transcriptomic phases of periodontitis lesions using the nonhuman primate model.” Scientific reports 11.1 (2021): 9282. ↩︎
  5. Jain, Nilu, et al. “Recent approaches for the treatment of periodontitis.” Drug discovery today 13.21-22 (2008): 932-943. ↩︎

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Ananya Pal

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