How is the first stage of gum disease different from the other stages?
Regardless of which view you chose to accept, at the first stage of gum disease, called
gingivitis, there are no gum pockets. Your gums are attached to your teeth, even
though they are already infected from germs. The germs come from dental plaque, a
soft, germ laden deposit that accumulates on your teeth. Your infected gums will
usually bleed just from brushing your teeth or eating, and you may have noticed
that your gums are red and swollen or puffy, a sign of the distinctive inflammation of
gingivitis. Sometimes, you may notice that your breath will have a bad odor which doesn’t
seem to be helped by breath mints or a mouth wash. Surprisingly, you won’t have any
Please be aware that certain medical conditions can produce symptoms similar to those
of gingivitis. A classic example is scurvy, or gross vitamin C deficiency. Only a dentist
can diagnosis and confirm that you have gum disease and that your gum
disease is still at the stage of gingivitis.
How else is gingivitis different from all the other stages?
Gingivitis is different from the other stages of gum disease because with proper
nutritional intervention and improved hygiene for your teeth and gums, the symptoms of
gingivitis can be completely reversed. The bleeding when you brush or eat will
stop, the redness and swelling in your gums will vanish and any mouth odor will
The key to successfully healing gingivitis is daily specialized whole food
nutritional support with organic or all natural supplements and whole food
supplements that directly promote and strengthen your immune system. A
strong immune system protects you from infection and will overcome an
existing infection in your gums.
Click here for a simple to take, doctor recommended nutritional program that
can help you control your gum disease.
Most dentists and hygienists will only recommend improving your oral hygiene to help
stop gingivitis. They rarely provide any kind of nutritional advice. While it is true that
visiting your dentist for a professional cleaning by a hygienist is always beneficial and
highly recommended, without daily, high quality, effective nutritional
supplementation, the benefits of improved oral hygiene to stop gingivitis will
only be temporary. That’s why dental hygienists always recommend you return
periodically for cleanings.
How do dentists or hygienists diagnose gingivitis or other stages of periodontal
disease in your mouth?
Your dentist or hygienist looks for gum disease by gently probing and measuring the
depth of the normally small space between your gums and your teeth at the gum line.
They do this with a special dental instrument called a periodontal probe. The normal
depth of the space between your tooth and gums is generally between one to three
millimeters, which is about an eighth of an inch. If the measured depth falls in this
range, and your gums bleed when they are gently probed, this is the symptom
of infection that dentists use to diagnosis gingivitis, the first stage of gum
disease. Even if you have been seeing your dentist or dental hygienist regularly, finding
out that you have gum disease may come as a surprise, since gum disease is usually
The statements and information on this website have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and
are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. The body's ability and power to heal depends upon
the totality of diet, nutrition, lifestyle and environmental factors. No claims for the cure of any disease is intended,
or implied. Always consult a health care practitioner when dealing with disease states.
What are the stages of gum disease and what
are the symptoms of each stage?
Gum disease and periodontal disease are one and the same. Dentists use the
name periodontal disease for gum disease. The common form of chronic gum disease
is traditionally divided up into four stages as it progresses, or perhaps, we should say, as
it worsens. However, the end point of the forth stage is really a separate fifth stage. The
five different stages are discussed below.
Gum disease also has several other distinct forms which are aggressive in nature, and
are not characterized by different stages. One form of aggressive gum disease, called
early onset or juvenile periodontitis, is relatively rare. It tends to start at puberty. A more
detailed description can be found on the Dental Bone Loss page of this website.
Another aggressive type that occurs in young adults is known as necrotizing ulcerative
gingivitis, or sometimes, acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis. At one time, it was called
trench mouth. You can read about necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis on the Causes of Sore
Briefly, the five stages of gum disease are as follows:
- The first stage is called gingivitis. Gingivitis is considered to be an infection
characterized by inflammation. The inflammation produces bleeding from your
gums, which is the most frequently occurring symptom. Your gums will bleed when
you are brushing or flossing your teeth and when you are eating. Generally there is
- The second stage is called early gum disease or early periodontal disease.
At this stage of gum disease, the types of germs associated with infections that
destroy living tissue, are always found in the plaque on your teeth, and in your
gums. Because the infection is destructive, it breaks apart the connection of your
gums to your teeth. Your gums start to separate from your teeth, forming gum
pockets or spaces between your teeth and your gums. Your gums may still bleed
- The third stage is called moderate gum disease. As the disease worsens and
your gums become further detached from your teeth, the pockets deepen, because
now the bone around your teeth is starting to be destroyed by the infection. Often,
this destructive process has very mild symptoms, causing most people to have few,
if any, immediate concerns. Sometimes your gums may start to recede, although
many times there is no recession. Bleeding from your gums may be less frequent
during this stage of gum disease.
- The forth stage is called advanced gum disease. Eventually, your teeth may
become loose because a significant amount of bone supporting them is lost from
the gum infection. Your gum pockets may now be almost as deep as the length of
the root. You may notice some gum recession. Pain is usually still absent. Bleeding
from your gums is variable, because by now the infection is mostly at the bottom of
the gum pocket.
At this stage of gum infection, you may begin to wonder if you are going to lose any
of your teeth. You may now also realize that you have a bad taste in your mouth or
suspect that you have bad breath. The truth is that a degree of unpleasant breath
may have been present throughout all the previous stages, without your being
aware of it.
- The last or fifth stage of gum disease is called acute gum disease. It occurs
when the chronic, largely painless infection involving any number of teeth in your
mouth, becomes an acute and painful gum abscess around one of those teeth. Pus
mixed with blood may sometimes be seen draining out at the gum line. Now your
gum disease gets your attention.
Depending on any dental treatment and the state of your immune system, your gum
infection may fluctuate back and forth between the chronic stage and the acute
stage. The painful symptoms of this stage of gum disease may motivate you to seek
immediate dental treatment. You may find yourself losing one or more teeth in spite
of receiving dental care. From the time that gingivitis, the first stage begins, until
the acute final stage rears its offensive symptoms, many years may elapse.
The purpose of this page is to answer questions about
the stages of gum disease and symptoms of periodontal
How do I know if I have other stages of gum disease?
The answer depends on whether you go to a dentist or not. If you don’t see a dentist
regularly, then you may not know you have gum disease in any of its various stages.
notice that some of their teeth are becoming loose or changing position, with spaces
developing between them. Sometimes you may become aware of bad breath that isn’t
helped with mints or a mouth rinse, or in some cases, there may be some visible gum
recession. Of course, it the infection becomes acute and painful, that will usually wake
you up to something being wrong.
On the other hand, if you are seeing your dentist, or if you now decide to go, expect your
dentist or their hygienist to regularly inspect your gums with a periodontal probe. Your
dentist or hygienist will inform you if your gums are already infected and you have gum
disease. If your dentist or hygienist finds one or more spaces between your
teeth and your gums that are deeper than the normal one to three millimeters,
and bleeding has occurred during probing, then your gums are infected beyond
the gingivitis stage. It also means that in these places your gums are not only infected
with germs, they have already become detached from your teeth. The separation of your
gums from your teeth creates a space called a gum pocket, which is filled with plaque,
germs and tartar. You may have more than one tooth where this has happened.
For information on nutritional support to keep your gums healthy, please click
on this link.
As just stated, if you have infected gum pockets, the gum infection is no longer
at the gingivitis stage. Depending on the degree of separation of your gums from your
teeth, which is determined by the depth of the infected gum pockets, gum disease is
classified as either at the early, moderate or advanced stage. Infected gum pockets
always bleed when probed. As a general rule of thumb, infected pocket depths of four
to five millimeters indicate an early stage, and six to seven millimeters, a moderate stage.
Some dentists believe a seven millimeter pocket means advanced gum disease. Virtually
all dentists would consider infected pocket depths of eight millimeters or more as a
diagnostic sign of advanced gum disease.
If x-rays are taken, they will usually reveal some amount of bone destruction, with the loss
of jaw bone directly around the roots of your teeth with gum disease, especially if the gum
infection is at the moderate or advanced stage.
Ask your dentist or hygienist for their assessment of the degree of infection of your gums.
As you will read next, when your body is truly healthy, it is possible to have gum
pockets that are not infected and do not bleed when probed. Make sure that
your dentist or hygienist tells you whether or not your gums bleed when probed.
If my gum infection is beyond the gingivitis stage what can I do to heal my gums?
The most efficient way to heal your gums is with a combined approach of
appropriate dental treatment that doesn’t include antibiotics, meticulous home
hygiene, and effective all natural supplementation. A holistic dentist is more likely to
offer treatment without using antibiotics. To find a holistic or biological dentist, go to the
website of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT) and
click on the “Find a Doctor” link on the home page.
What you can expect from this method is to have healthy teeth and gums with
infection free gum pockets that do not bleed and will remain that way as long as
your immune system is very strong and your mouth hygiene is reasonably
adequate. Daily supplementation with the all natural supplementation program
recommended on this website is critical and essential for boosting the strength
of your immune system and keeping your gums in a healthy state.
To view the recommended program, click here.
Why will I still have gum pockets if my gums are healed?
Unlike gingivitis, some of the symptoms of the other stages of gum disease
cannot be fully reversed by your body’s innate natural healing capability. Even if
the infection, and the separation of your gums from your teeth caused by the infection, is
stopped, it is highly unlikely that any gum line recession will improve, or that healing will
reduce the depth of your gum pockets by much more than one or two millimeters. This is
because the gum infection has destroyed much of the living bone and a layer of tissue
called cementum that normally surrounds the roots or your teeth. Without the
cementum and bone that were destroyed by the infection, reattachment of your
gums to your tooth at the original level is not possible. However, the healed
gum pockets will not bleed when probed. Neither will your gums bleed when
you brush and floss. The bone around your teeth will gain strength and teeth
that were loose, will frequently tighten up. As an added bonus, you won’t have
Click here for a suggested nutritional program for boosting the strength of your
Although the strength and health of your immune system is more important for healthy
gums than your oral hygiene, please clean your teeth and gums daily, as you have been
shown by your dental hygienist. Rinsing with an all natural mouth rinse that kills germs is
an extremely effective way of eliminating mouth odor. To obtain an all natural mouth rinse
that kills germs, ask your dentist or hygienist to order Tooth and Gum Tonic® from the
Dental Herb Company or to arrange for it to be shipped directly to you. Their website is
Why should I be concerned if my gum disease has reached the advanced
You should be concerned when you start having symptoms of the advanced
stage of gum disease, because this means that you are at risk of losing teeth. At
the advanced stage of gum disease there are usually significant deposits of tarter or
calculus on your teeth and infected gum pockets that have become more than seven
millimeters deep. Sometimes the infected pockets may be almost as deep as the length of
the root of your tooth.
You may notice that some of your teeth are changing position, with spaces developing
between them. Wherever there has happened, some of the bone around the teeth has
been destroyed by the infection and adjacent bone is already starting to soften and
weaken. This causes your teeth to become loose and separate from each other. If
nothing is done to limit the infection, it is only a matter of time before the infection will
become irreversible, and you will lose teeth.
Why does the chronic stage of gum disease sometimes change to an acute and
The worst case scenario is when your immune system is so over burdened by
toxic stresses, including the toxins from germs, that the germs in your infected
gums can over whelm your immune system. Examples of toxic stresses are medical
conditions like diabetes and AIDS, or chemical insults like synthetic additives in the
processed foods most people eat every day.
You can then end up with the symptoms of a painful gum abscess. By this time the
nerve in your tooth is also infected, because the germs in your infected gums can pass
through tiny pores in the root, called dentinal tubules, and into the nerve. Your tooth has
become infected internally and externally, surrounded by abscessed, infected tissue
which has replaced the jaw bone destroyed by the gum infection. Sometimes you will see
pus and blood oozing from the gum margin of the painful tooth.
Now your advanced gum disease has arrived at the final acute stage of periodontal
disease. Even if prompt dental treatment, usually with antibiotics, is able to reverse the
acute symptoms so that they become painless and chronic once more, the acute stage
will typically make its ugly head appear again sometime after using up the prescribed
antibiotics. Worse yet is the fact that this can happen to more than one tooth in your
With such severely infected teeth in your jaw bone, your body can no longer
successfully heal your jaw bone. Teeth with end stage gum disease are like a
foreign body in your mouth. The likelihood of saving your teeth isn’t very
promising. You ultimately lose teeth, either by having them removed by a
dentist, or they come out, usually when you are eating. Not a desired outcome
for most people.
Learn what you can do to save your gums from the ravages of gum disease, by
Besides nutritional support, what can I do to save my teeth from the damaging
effects of gum disease?
- Ask your dentist or hygienist for their assessment of the degree of
infection of your gums. Consider changing to a dentist who is holistic, as you are
more likely to receive treatment that focuses on eliminating the germs associated
with gum infection without using antibiotics. To find a holistic or biological
How can I tell if my gums are healthy and I don’t have gum disease?
Healthy gums are never infected. When your gums are healthy, they are firmly
attached to your teeth by what is called the periodontal, ligament. Periodontal means
around the tooth. The attachment is strong and tight enough to prevent any germs or
their toxins from getting through, and any body fluids, like blood, from getting out. You
can usually recognize when you have a healthy gum attachment because your
gums will be pink, firm, and never bleed or hurt with routine brushing, flossing,
or when chewing food.
If I haven’t been to my dentist in awhile, how will I know if I have gum disease?
It’s a good idea to visit your dentist to confirm that your gums are healthy and not at one
of the stages of gum disease. The truth is that you might not be able to tell if you
have gum disease unless you see your dentist. Self diagnosis is not recommended,
as it can lead to false conclusions. With that in mind, some of the common symptoms of
gum disease you can observe yourself are listed next, to help you increase your
awareness of the condition of your gums.
The most common, chronic gum disease features and symptoms you can easily
- Heavy plaque accumulations around your teeth, especially at the gum line. Plaque
is a cream colored sticky substance on your teeth that is loaded with germs. If you
scrape some of it off and hold it near your nose, it has an unpleasant odor.
- Tarter and stains around your teeth, especially at the gum line. Tarter is hardened
or calcified plaque.
- Bleeding gums, especially when you brush or floss your teeth, or when you eat.
- Red looking gums at the gum line and between your teeth.
- Swollen, puffy gums at the gum line and between your teeth.
- Teeth that are becoming loose or are already loose. Spaces that develop between
your teeth that weren’t there before are a sign of your teeth becoming loose.
- Persistent mouth odor or bad breath, especially if a mouth rinse or mints don’t help.
- Mild recession of your gums. Recession alone is not a sign of gum disease.
- One or more of the above and lack of pain. However, if your chronic gum disease
evolves into an acute gum abscess around a tooth, you will have pain.
Reading the rest of this article is highly recommended if you want to learn how
to make your gums as healthy as possible.
In each of the different stages, what causes gum disease?
You have gum disease when your gums are infected with germs. This is true
regardless of the stage of your gum disease. The consumer information, faculty
reviewed website of the prestigious Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
supports the conventional dental model of gum disease as being an infection caused by
bacteria. In other words, gum disease is caused by an external force, i.e. germs or
bacteria, over which you have little or no control. This also means that the only practical
solution you have for dealing with your gum disease is to go to your dentist for treatment.
The holistic view is that germs, including bacteria, viruses and yeasts organisms, can only
infect and hurt you if you let them do this. For this to happen, the germs need a
weakened immune system, and an acidic body state, which favors the growth of germs
associated with infections. You have already created these negative conditions in your
body if you have been eating the standard American diet of processed foods loaded with
chemicals, and living the sedentary, inactive lifestyle that often goes with it.
Your body state equally affects your teeth and gums. When the tissues in your body are
in an acidic condition and your immune system is not vigorous and robust, your immune
system won’t be strong enough to prevent germs from growing around your teeth, and the
germs will infect your gums. In other words, you are responsible for causing your gum
disease. The good news is that this also means you are in control, because you
can change your body, which gives you the ability to stop gum disease at any
Click here for a remarkably effective nutrition program that gives you the
capacity to make your gums healthy again.
Stages of Gum Disease
- Brushing and flossing regularly is helpful because it reduces the number of
germs on the teeth and under the gums. The primary benefit of brushing and
flossing is to remove germ filled plaque, thus making your breath smell better.
Reducing plaque also helps your fillings last longer.
- You may also need medical care. There is strong scientific evidence that people
who are diabetic have a greater likelihood of getting gum disease. Also, people with
silver fillings, which contain large amounts of toxic mercury, may be at risk because
mercury is known to cause bleeding gums, one of the signs of periodontal disease.
You must still make your immune system as strong as possible. Since a poorly
functioning immune system is unable to adequately cope with the germs in your
gums, isn’t it reasonable to assume that a vibrantly healthy immune system will
behave the opposite way, and enable you to easily and readily deal with any gum
How do you make your immune system as strong as possible?
You can make your immune system stronger by following a healthy life style. This means:
- Consuming the right kinds of foods and drinks, including fruits and vegetables and
other foods that are organic, whole grain, unprocessed or raw, and contain no
added sugars, chemicals or synthetic ingredients of any kind.
- Exercising regularly.
- Avoiding as many environmental toxins as possible.
If you are motivated enough to do all these things, you will produce a slightly alkaline,
health promoting internal environment in your body and you will make your immune
system very strong.
Isn’t that really hard for most people to do?
That depends on your priorities. Since most people will rarely meet all of these conditions,
the solution for strengthening your immune system is to still consume the right kinds of
foods and drinks when you can, to still exercise and avoid toxins as much as possible, and
to compensate for whatever elements of a healthy lifestyle you are personally
missing, by adding organic and all natural whole food supplements to your diet.
Why should you add organic and all natural supplements to your diet? The answer lies
in the fact that the human body is a marvelously designed living organism with
the ability to grow, regulate, repair, and defend itself when given natural, high
quality, full spectrum nutrients derived from natural and organically grown foods.
A well fed body is able to resist disease better than a poorly fed body. Supplements made
from these foods uniquely enhance the quality or your body’s physical, mental, and
emotional well-being, because they accomplish the same things that natural and
organically grown foods do. When you add organic whole food and all natural
supplements to your diet, you strengthen and support your immune system. That means
that you improve your ability to fight infection. Since gum disease is an infection, you
also improve your ability fight any gum infection and make your gums healthier.
Isn’t that what you want?
Would you like to learn more about these supplements and how they can help
your gums? Take advantage of Dr. Gilbert’s offer of a free, no obligation
nutritional consultation and talk to him about these remarkable supplements. All
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