What’s the #1 Cause of Tooth Loss? Gum Disease
Did you know that nearly half of the American adult population suffers from some form of gum disease? Did you also know that left untreated, gum disease can wreak havoc on your oral health, causing tooth and bone loss, and can contribute to serious systemic health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and stroke? What’s the good news? Gum disease is preventable, and treatable when caught in the early stages.
You may have heard on toothpaste or mouthwash commercials about “the gum disease gingivitis”. The truth is, gingivitis is not a “type” of gum disease, rather, it’s the first stage of gum disease. Gingivitis occurs when proper oral hygiene is not followed. Plaque that is allowed to remain on teeth quickly turns into plaque’s hardened cousin – tartar. Tartar along the gum line irritates the gums and causes gingivitis. Gingivitis is characterized by:
- Gums that bleed easily or frequently with regular brushing & flossing
- Tender, red, or swollen gums
- Unpleasant taste in the mouth or persistent bad breath
Periodontitis or advanced gum disease occurs when gingivitis is allowed to progress. Tartar irritates the gums to the point where they begin to pull away from the teeth, or recede. Gum recession left untreated can cause deep pockets to form, allowing the infection to progress even further. Receding gums eventually expose the roots of the teeth, causing pain and sensitivity, and leaving the door open for further decay and infection. Periodontitis or advanced gum disease is characterized by:
- Receding gums cause teeth to appear larger than before
- Pockets between the gums & the teeth, or periodontal pockets
- Exposed tooth roots are sensitive & painful
- Teeth eventually become loose & fall out without supporting gum tissue
- Deterioration of tooth & supporting bone tissue
What are the risks?
The mouth is a gateway to the rest of the body; bacteria and infections in the mouth have a direct pathway to enter the bloodstream and internal organs. Left untreated, aside from the horrific oral health consequences including tooth and bone loss, gum disease can cause and contribute to serious systemic diseases, including:
- Heart disease
- Heart attack
- Kidney disease
- Premature birth
- Pancreatic cancer
- Head & neck cancers
- & more
What can we do?
While this all sounds grim, the silver lining is that gum disease is preventable, and can be treatable and reversible when caught in the early stages. If you are only in the gingivitis stage, we may be able to treat your gum disease with some simple alterations to your daily hygiene routine. We may provide you with specialty products to give you a professional boost and help kill the infection. Sometimes we also prescribe antibiotics.
Gum Recession Treatment
If your gum disease has progressed and become periodontitis, and you’ve experienced gum recession, more involved treatment is necessary. We use a procedure called scaling and root planing to clean above and below the gum line and in the pockets and reattach healthy tissue to the teeth. We also can provide gum recession treatment to stimulate the tissue to regenerate itself and reverse the effects.
Treatment of gum disease is vital if you wish to protect and keep your teeth. It is also necessary if you want your body to remain healthy, and prevent the development of serious, even deadly consequences.
Give Us a Call!
If you’ve noticed any of the signs and symptoms of gum disease, you have any questions about gum disease or are ready to schedule an appointment with your dentist, give us a call today!