There are millions of germs that live in your mouth. If you suffer from gum disease, you have open wounds in your gums that allow the bacteria to enter directly into your blood stream and circulate throughout your body. Some of the bacteria normally found in the mouth enter your bloodstream through infected gums and can relocate to other parts of your body with the potential of creating disease in organs and systems. Much research is being done to investigate if a definitive link exists between periodontal disease and other systemic illnesses. Many of the results are inconclusive; however, research has shown some links between periodontal disease and heart disease, ischemic stroke, respiratory disease, head and neck cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, and increased risk of pre-term delivery. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for the majority of adults in the United States. Losing your teeth, however, is not the only danger of this disease. When you have gum disease, there is an active, living infection in your mouth. This infection releases toxins to the entire body through the blood vessels in your mouth causing a variety of health-related issues.
Stage 1: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is the earliest stage of gum disease and is caused by plaque buildup around the gum line which causes inflammation of the gums. If you neglect to brush or floss your teeth daily, this plaque buildup will trap bacteria and cause gum disease. Gingivitis causes inflammation of the gums. Gums that should otherwise be pink will appear red and swollen; you could experience bleeding when you brush or floss. However, at this point, gingivitis can still be reversed. The bone and fibers that hold your teeth in place have not yet been affected.
Stage 2: Periodontitis
If gingivitis is left untreated, the condition will become periodontitis. At this stage, the supporting bones and fibers that hold your teeth in place have been irreversibly damaged. Your gums begin to form “pockets,” deep hollow areas around the teeth that trap food, plaque, and bacteria. Your gums will recede and form gaps between your teeth. Immediate treatment is necessary to prevent further damage and tooth loss.
Stage 3: Advanced Periodontitis
In this final stage, periodontitis has been left untreated and has become advanced periodontitis. Bacteria that was allowed to grow, spread, and cause destruction has destroyed the connective tissues and bones that support the teeth. The pockets that formed in the previous stage have become much deeper. Your teeth can shift or loosen. Loose teeth that move around in the mouth may affect your bite. At this state, aggressive treatment is needed to save the teeth.