How Quickly Can Gingivitis Turn Into Periodontitis?
Gingivitis is a common condition caused by bacteria which affects the gum tissue. It is characterized by red, swollen, bleeding gums, and sometimes bad breath. Periodontitis, sometimes called periodontal or gum disease, is a more advanced stage that occurs after gingivitis and results in loss of bone and gum tissue that hold the teeth in the mouth.
If you have the signs of gingivitis, you may be wondering how long it may take before it turns into periodontitis. Here’s what you need to know to treat gingivitis and prevent periodontitis from developing.
Symptoms of Gingivitis
Gingivitis may be indicated by one or a combination of the following symptoms:
- Red gum tissue
- Swollen gum tissue
- Bleeding from the gums when brushing, flossing, or eating
- Sore or tender gums
- Bad breath
Symptoms of Periodontitis
Periodontitis is the next stage when gingivitis has progressed to gum disease. The symptoms of periodontitis include the above symptoms of gingivitis, as well as:
- Receding gums
- Long looking teeth
- Loose teeth
- Teeth that have shifted
- Pain when chewing or brushing your teeth
- Bad breath
Stages of Periodontal Disease
There are 4 stages of gum disease:
- Gingivitis. The earliest stage of gum disease is gingivitis. There is some irritation of the gum tissue, causing them to be sore or bleed. Many people are not aware that they have gingivitis because the symptoms are mild. It is typically noticed by your dentist during a routine dental cleaning or bleeding when you brush and floss.
- Early periodontal disease. When gingivitis goes untreated, it can develop into periodontitis. The earliest stage includes moderate symptoms such as spacing or black triangles between the teeth and gums, slightly loose teeth, and pain when chewing. Once periodontitis has set in, there is irreversible damage to the support structures for the teeth. At this point the disease can be managed and treated.
- Moderate periodontal disease. As periodontitis progresses the symptoms will worsen. There will likely be greater discomfort when chewing and there will be more extensive damage to the bone and gum that hold the teeth in the mouth.
- Advanced periodontal disease. When periodontitis reaches the advanced stage there may be loss of teeth and significant damage to the jaw bone. It may not be possible to save all of the teeth at this point.
How Long Does It Take to Go From Gingivitis to Periodontitis?
From the earliest stage of gingivitis, it can take about anywhere from months to years to develop periodontitis, depending on individual patient factors. But this is only the case if the gingivitis is allowed to progress unchecked by a periodontist. Gingivitis is relatively easy to treat, but it is necessary to act quickly. Once it progresses to periodontitis it becomes much more difficult and more costly to treat.
How Can You Stop Gingivitis From Becoming Periodontitis?
At the first signs of gingivitis, the following steps can be taken to prevent periodontitis from developing:
- Brush your teeth twice a day to remove plaque. The best times are morning and at night before you go to bed. Be sure to brush thoroughly along your gum line.
- Floss or water floss your teeth once a day to remove plaque from between your teeth. The best time to do this is at night before bed.
- Go to the periodontist every 2-6 months for dental cleanings and oral exams. This removes the plaque that is left behind after brushing and provides early detection and monitoring of gingivitis symptoms.
- Avoid eating processed foods high in sugars and trans-fats which cause inflammation.
- Avoid tobacco use.
- Manage diabetes and other metabolic conditions, if you have it, according to your doctor’s instructions.
- Reduce your sugar intake.
Prevent Periodontitis With Help From Dr. Froum
Scott H. Froum, DDS, PC is a highly qualified periodontist who treats and helps prevent periodontitis. Our goal is to detect gingivitis in the early stages and provide the necessary treatment to prevent it from progressing to periodontal disease.