For those not already in the know, periodontal disease refers to a state of severe oral infection that can lead to tooth loss the longer it goes untreated. And it is unfortunately quite common in the U.S., especially among the 30-and 40-Something Crowd. But to fully understand just how prevalent periodontal disease is in America, we should probably take a look at a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to the study data, an estimated 47 percent or roughly 65 million people in America age 30 and over have some form of the disease. While we are on the topic, it is worth noting that men are more likely to develop this particular oral health problem than women. For reference, the same CDC study shows that 56.4 percent of men will encounter some form of periodontal disease in their lifetime. In contrast, only 38.4 percent of women will suffer the same fate. The one thing that both genders have in common, however, when it comes to periodontal disease, also known as periodontitis, is the toll that it takes on their oral health.
What Is a Periodontal Pocket?
Something to note when it comes to periodontitis, otherwise known as periodontal disease, is that it is not sudden. And in its early stages, it is essentially painless. Of course, this does change as the disease progresses and periodontal pockets begin to happen. Before delving too much further into periodontal pockets, we should probably spend some time familiarizing ourselves with how problems in the oral cavity eventually contribute to the disease in the first place. For those not aware, early-stage gum disease is known as gingivitis. And unlike periodontitis, it is reversible and, according to many dentists, even preventable. When gingivitis goes untreated, it often gives way to an even more severe form of gum disease known as periodontitis. While gum pockets are not consistent with gingivitis, many individuals with this type of gum disease will experience the following:
- Dark red gums
- Puffy or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Severe halitosis
- Receding gums
- Tender gums
Although these symptoms are usually painless, they are enough to prompt most people to schedule an appointment with their dentist as soon as possible. And doing so goes a long way toward reducing the risk of developing periodontitis, not to mention exceedingly deep gum pockets that can result in tooth loss. For reference, gum pockets refer to the amount of space between one’s teeth and their gums. For context, gum pockets measuring between 1 and 3 millimeters (mm) are considered normal and healthy. When gingivitis gives way to periodontal disease, deeper gum pockets are part of that equation. In extreme cases, people with this advanced form of gum disease will have gum pockets in the realm of 7 to 12 mm deep, say many periodontists. Of course, as observed in periodontal disease pictures, things don’t exactly go from bad to worse overnight. After all, periodontitis is a progressive disease. When it comes to the size and severity of gum pockets, individuals with periodontitis will notice the following as the disease progresses:
- Gum pockets measuring 4 to 5 mm correlates with early periodontal disease
- Gum pockets measuring 5 to 7 mm correlates with moderate periodontal disease
Dentists Well-Versed in Gum Disease Treatment in Los Angeles Explain What Periodontitis Does to the Oral Cavity