Gum Disease and the Risk of Tooth Loss
Gum disease is a common dental problem, often recognized by bleeding or swollen gums. While symptoms are minor at first, gum disease can lead to tooth loss. When tooth loss occurs, dental implants can be used to replace missing teeth and improve oral health.
Although gum disease can be damaging to oral health, it's actually easily prevented. Drs. Alex and Jason Hecht provide comprehensive dental care to treat gum disease and tooth loss, as well as educate our Staten Island, NY, patients on how to prevent gum disease from occurring.
Gum Disease Increases the Risk of Tooth Loss
Simply put, gum disease is a bacterial infection that frequently develops as a result of plaque and tartar collecting at and below the gum line.
In its early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis. The most common symptoms of gingivitis is bleeding gums when brushing or flossing and red or swollen gums. Diligent brushing and flossing are often enough to reverse gingivitis for our Staten Island patients, but if left untreated, gingivitis may develop into periodontitis.
When gum disease becomes periodontitis, it's important to see a dentist. It's during this stage that gum disease can become severe enough to cause tooth loss. Let's take a closer look at how periodontitis can cause tooth loss.
One of the most severe conditions of peridontitis is the formation of periodontal pockets. Periodontal pockets are essentially gaps, or pockets that form, between the teeth and gums as a result of food debris, plaque, and tartar collecting along the gum line.
As debris, plaque, and tartar collect at the gum line, pockets become larger, allowing bacteria to reach areas of the teeth usually protected by the gums. Eventually, pockets can become large enough to expose portions of the tooth's roots.
Once the roots are exposed to bacteria, tooth decay may set in. Without treatment, this can lead to tooth loss.
Gum recession is another symptom of periodontitis that puts dental health at risk. Gum recession is a loss of gum tissue that typically starts at the gum line.
As with periodontial pockets, when gum recession worsens, areas of the teeth that are usually covered by the gums become exposed. Exposure to bacteria, plaque, and food debris can lead to tooth decay and eventually tooth loss.
Gum recession can also lead to loose teeth as the gum tissue supporting the teeth wears away. If the teeth become too loose, they may fall out.
Spread of Infection
Many people think gum disease only affects the gums, but it is an infection; like most infections, it can spread to surrounding areas.
If left untreated, gum disease can infect the jawbone and other structures that support the teeth. This can cause the teeth to become loose or even fall out.
Tooth decay is another risk of gum disease that can lead to tooth loss. Tooth decay may start as a small cavity but become more serious as decay progresses, potentially leading to a root canal infection.
Periodontal pockets and gum recession can allow bacteria to reach the roots of the teeth, leading to decay below the gums. Without treatment, tooth decay can damage the roots and nerves that nourish the teeth.
Gum Disease Treatment Can Prevent Tooth Loss
Gum disease treatment from our Staten Island dentists can help prevent tooth loss and restore oral health. Many treatments are available, making it easy to tailor treatment to each patient's unique needs.
Some treatments for gum disease include:
- Root planing and scaling
- Pocket reduction or flap surgery
- Gum grafts
Learn More about Your Treatment Options
If you suffer from gum disease and would like to learn more about your treatment options, please call (718) 705-4434 to schedule a consultation.