LANAP surgery

Understanding Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease) — What are the Stages?

At James Island Dental Associates, our skilled dentists and hygienists help many patients dealing with tooth loss. By far, the most common cause is gum disease, also called periodontal disease. Understanding the signs and stages of gum disease is important to prevent it from occurring. When it does develop, We are your trained and licensed provider for LANAP in Charleston, SC

LANAP (laser assisted new attachment procedure) is a new FDA-approved treatment for moderate to severe periodontal disease that avoids the need for surgery with a scalpel or sutures. With LANAP, you can undergo periodontal treatment and return to work the next day.

Dr. L. Thomas Weir is the first dentist in South Carolina to be trained and licensed in the LANAP procedure, and has used it successfully for many years. 

Why Should I Be Concerned About Gum Disease? 

Gum disease is caused by bacterial infection in the gum tissue, most likely fueled by inadequate oral hygiene. While bacteria are always present in your mouth, it feeds on plaque and tartar that is allowed to accumulate. This runaway bacteria grows and causes gum tissue to become inflamed, triggering a host of oral health issues. 


Untreated gum disease can lead to tooth loss. It also causes a loss of bone in the jaw, which can actually change your facial structure and appearance. Periodontal disease has also been directly linked to serious health problems like cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and stroke. Understanding the stages of gum disease and what it takes to combat it can minimize the impact on your oral and overall health.

The Stages of Periodontal Disease 

The earliest stage of periodontal disease is called gingivitis. This is the beginning inflammation of gum tissue from a buildup of bacteria. The gums become swollen and may slightly recede from the teeth, allowing pockets where more bacteria can grow. You may experience bad breath, red gums and bleeding while brushing. 

Early Stage Gum Disease

Early stage gum disease is a progression of gingivitis, causing inflammation and infection of gum tissue to spread. Common symptoms of early stage gum disease include:


  • Deeper pockets around the teeth (4-6mm)
  • Receding gums that separate from the teeth
  • Plaque and tartar under the gum line
  • Bad breath 
  • Beginning of bone loss
  • Deterioration of the fibrous tissues that support teeth 


Early stage gum disease, or early periodontitis, can lead to permanent damage of the fibers that support your teeth.  

Moderate Stage Gum Disease

Moderate periodontitis brings further deterioration of the gums and tooth fibers. Teeth can become unstable. Pockets around the teeth increase to 6-7mm and the roots of the teeth may become visible. Teeth may also become more sensitive because the roots are exposed. Symptoms include: 


  • Visible pockets around the teeth
  • Increased bad breath
  • Tooth abscesses 
  • Loose teeth
  • Up to 50% bone loss 
  • Teeth may show visible separation  

Advanced Stage Gum Disease

Advanced periodontitis is characterized by bleeding gums, chronic bad breath, sensitive teeth and tooth loss. Tooth abscesses can drain pus, causing further infection. Facial structure can be noticeably changed because of severe bone loss. 

Treat Gum Disease with LANAP in Charleston, SC 

When caught early, periodontal disease, or gum disease, is treatable and reversible with medications and advanced-level cleanings. More moderate to advanced levels can require oral surgery. The LANAP laser procedure for treating periodontal disease offers a number of advantages over conventional surgical methods, including:


  • Less risk of bleeding 
  • Greater comfort
  • Greater surgical precision 
  • Faster healing 
  • Shorter treatment times 
  • No scalpels or stitches 
  • Longer-lasting results 


Our dentists first numb your gums to minimize any discomfort. Then, we use advanced oral scanning to “chart” your mouth to determine the extent of gum disease and bone loss. Next, the LANAP Periolase laser is gently passed along each infected tooth to remove the diseased tissue. This is repeated after advanced teeth cleaning procedure. 


There is minimal discomfort after the procedure. While your gums heal, our dentists recommend a soft diet. You will need to return to our office in Charleston for periodic cleanings and evaluations to ensure a complete return to periodontal health. Choosing LANAP in Charleston, SC for treating gum disease stimulates bone regrowth and decreases the size of gum pockets by over 50%. 


Do you suspect you are suffering from gum disease? Are you interested in fast, convenient treatment for periodontal disease with LANAP in Charleston, SC? Schedule an evaluation with our dentists at James Island Dental Associates today by using our Online Portal or calling (843) 762-1234. 

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