Est. 1998

Stage 1 Periodontal Disease — Gingivitis

Gingivitis is the most common form of periodontal disease. In simple terms, it is an inflammation of the gum tissue.  Uncared for, the inflammation turns into more serious forms of infection and eventually evolves into periodontitis. The most common way to classify gingvitis is by cause and severity.  Generally, it’s enough to know that it has three phases, and if, for example, you are in the third phase you have the most serious form. Your hygienist will guide you in determining what caused your gingivitis and what phase it is in, but it’s important for you to be familiar with the most common types.

Simple gingivitis: Over 90% of all Americans have had, have now, or will have this form of gum disease. It can occur around one, or all of your teeth. The first sign is a reddish, shiny band that is seen at the point where the gums meet the teeth. In the early stages of the disease the gums may not bleed, but they will as the disease progresses. This condition can arise in as little as a week if the teeth and gums aren’t cared for. If caught soon enough you can treat it yourself.  With the right attention, and depending on how serious it is, it should heal in one to three weeks. If you can’t reserve this process in that amount of time you will need the help of the hygienist.

Chronic gingivitis: At the stage, the disease is no longer simple.  Chronic gingivitis is like an old tree with widespread roots that are entrenched and difficult to remove. This is a very common form of periodontal disease in patients who brush enough to keep the disease from moving rapidly but not enough to stop it.  The rate this disease progresses will be a direct reflection of the amount of time you spend taking care of teeth, your diet, how fast you form plaque, and how efficiently the plaque was removed. Generally, the areas of the mouth that receive the least attention are the ones that are the most affected. This stage of the disease may not be painful, but there is inflammation and infection, and bleeding will take place occasionally. It’s important to note that the degree of bleeding isn’t always an indication of the severity of periodontal disease.

Acute gingivitis: Common names for this type of gingivitis are Vincent’s infection, trench mouth, and ANUG, acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivostomatatitis. Acute gingivitis can appear suddenly and is very painful, but it usually responds well to proper treatment at the dental office. Some of the most common symptoms are fever, swollen lymph nodes, and malaise(tiredness). Its visual signs are red and swollen gums; craterlike depressions at the edges of the gum between the teeth; and gray-colored skin around the edges of the infection.  The infected area will be painful when touched by anything. Because brushing at this stage is painful, the tendency is to cut down on the already insufficient oral care, and this only makes the condition worse. The infected area bleeds easily and is accompanied by a nasty smell.

This is the most serious form of gingivitis. It can involve one or more teeth, and it can rapidly expand to the ligament and bone if not treated.  As in most forms of dental disease, the initiating cause is  poor oral hygiene and the resultant plaque buildup. Many dental professionals believe that lowered resistance, poor nutrition, stress ( possibly from other diseases) share the blame in the cause and persistence of acute gingivitis.