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How Tooth Loss and Gum Disease Are Linked

Dr. Degel Jul 5, 2016

The stages of gum diseaseHere at Astoria Dental Group, we believe in enhancing the health of various parts of the mouth. This means a focus on the teeth, the gums, the jawbone, and the jaw joint. Taking all of these structures into account helps our patients have the healthiest and most beautiful smiles possible. When problems arise such as tooth loss, we can consider dental implants to support bridges and dentures as well as other options to improve health and aesthetics.

With this in mind, we'd like to consider a cause of tooth loss that many patients have not considered: gum disease. While it's not physical trauma from an accident or sports, periodontal problems can lead to major issues with dental wellness.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease refers to the infection and inflammation of the gum tissue. This is caused by the oral bacteria that naturally occurs in people's mouths. This bacteria is also what caused tooth decay as well as bad breath.

The Stages of Periodontal Disease

There are three stages of gum disease, listed below from least severe to most severe:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Advanced periodontitis

It's best for gum disease to be treated as soon as possible rather than allowing it to progress to a more serious level.

How Periodontal Disease Can Cause Tooth Loss

In early stages of gum disease, the infection tends to cause minor issues, such as bleeding gums, swollen gums, irritated gums, and gum discoloration.

When not treated, gingivitis can develop into periodontitis, which can result in gum recession. This exposes more of the tooth root, meaning that tooth decay can occur below the gumline, where it is much harder to treat. This can potentially result in weakened teeth that break and fall out and even root canal infections, which may necessitate tooth extraction to address. Even without tooth decay, there's the potential for serious gum recession to cause teeth to become loose.

When advanced periodontitis occurs, this makes the teeth extremely loose and wobbly, with a greater chance of teeth shifting out of their original position. Given the lack of optimal support for the teeth as well as the even greater risk of tooth decay and root canal infections, it is more likely for the teeth to fall out.

Smoking and Its Link to Periodontal Disease

Many studies have noticed a link between smoking (and the use of tobacco products in general) and tooth loss. This is because people who smoke are more prone to infections, which means a greater likelihood of gum disease.

The numbers don't lie. One study found that people who smoked a pack a day for 10 years were likely to be missing one to three teeth. Non-smokers were far less likely to be missing any teeth. This is just another reason to quit, or to just not start in the first place.

Treatments for Periodontal Disease

When it comes to treating gum disease, the best treatment options typically involve the use of antiseptic rinses or antibiotic medications. These will help get the infection under control and promote better periodontal health in the process.

To rebuild the gumline, there ae soft tissue grafting and augmentation procedures to consider. These oral surgeries will restore lost gum tissue.

Treatments for Tooth Loss

If you are missing a tooth or a few teeth because of gum disease, the use of dental bridges or dentures can be helpful depending on the extent of your tooth loss. There is also the option of having porcelain veneers placed, which are artificial tooth roots surgically embedded into the jawbone and gum tissue. These artificial tooth roots provide a level of stability comparable to natural tooth roots.

Tips for Periodontal Disease Prevention

To prevent gum disease as well as tooth decay and other dental health problems, be sure to consider the following oral hygiene tips:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day (ideally after every meal)
  • Floss your teeth at least once a night (ideally after every meal)
  • Avoid the use of tobacco products
  • Drink water throughout the day to remain hydrated
  • Visit your dentist twice a year for regular checkups

Contact Astoria Dental Group

For more information about gum disease treatment and prevention, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The entire team at Astoria Dental Group looks forward to your visit and helping you smile with absolute confidence again,

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Astoria, NY 11106

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