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Can Gum Disease Lead to Tooth Loss?

By Steven Kail on May 24, 2016


A diagram of teeth showing the different stages of gum diseaseA little bleeding when brushing and flossing may seem like no big deal, but, in fact, this symptom is one of the first signs of gum disease. Gum disease is one of the leading causes of oral health problems, including gum recession and tooth loss. Seeking treatment for gum disease as early as possible can restore oral health and prevent serious dental damage. Fortunately, restorative dentistry treatments are available to repair dental damage, replace missing teeth, and get oral health back on track. To discover your treatment options for tooth loss and gum disease, schedule a consultation with Jackson, TN dentists Steven Kail, Joseph Leonard, and Chris Arnold.

What Is Gum Disease?

Simply put, gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection of the gum tissue. Gum disease develops as plaque and tartar builds up along the gum line. As plaque and tartar gather along the gums, bacteria found in plaque will begin to irritate and infect the gum tissue.

During the initial stages of gum disease, known as gingivitis, the gums may appear inflamed or bleed when brushing or flossing. As gum disease advances to the more severe stage, called periodontitis, the gums will begin to pull away from the teeth.

Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

Gum disease is extremely dangerous to oral health. If left untreated, gum disease leads to tooth decay and tooth loss. Gum disease can cause tooth loss in a number of ways, making it particularly dangerous to oral health. Some ways in which gum disease leads to tooth loss includes:

  • Gum recession: Untreated gum disease can lead to gum recession. As the gums recede, bacteria are able to reach the areas usually protected by the gums, often leading to tooth decay and tooth loss.
  • Pockets between the gums and teeth: As plaque and tartar collects between the gums and the teeth, pockets may develop. Once pockets form, more debris will collect, causing the pockets to become larger. Pockets cause the gums to loosen around the teeth and allow bacteria to affect the tooth roots, which can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
  • The spread of infection: Gum disease can actually spread to other oral tissues, specifically the jawbone. As gum disease infects the jawbone, the teeth may become loose and eventually fall out.
  • Tooth decay: Tooth decay may develop at and beneath the gum line, damaging the tooth's roots. Tooth decay may become so severe that the teeth cannot survive, causing tooth loss or the need for extraction.

Prevent Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

Gum disease doesn't have to lead to tooth loss. By taking steps to protect your oral health, you can reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth loss. Practice these tips to keep your smile healthy and happy.

  • Brush twice a day: Brushing the teeth at least twice a day removes plaque and prevents tartar buildup, helping to reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Brush for a full two minutes with small circular strokes to ensure a thorough cleaning.
  • Floss everyday: Brushing alone is not enough to prevent gum disease. In order to reduce the risk of gum disease, you must floss everyday. Flossing is one of the most effective ways to prevent gum disease because it reduces plaque along the gum line, where brushing alone can't reach.
  • Use an antiseptic mouth wash: Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing and flossing to further reduce bacteria in the mouth and lower the risk of gum disease.
  • See your dentist every six months: Seeing your dentist every six months is key to preventing gum disease and catching oral health problems before they become severe. Professional cleanings are also a great way to reduce plaque and tartar buildup where even the best at-home brushing and flossing can miss.
  • Don't ignore the signs of gum disease: Gum disease should never end in tooth loss. If you suspect you have gum disease, it's important to schedule a dental appointment to receive treatment. Treating gum disease at the earliest signs can help protect your oral health for many years to come.

Enjoy a Healthy Smile

Proper dental care is essential to a healthy smile. To schedule your next dental exam, or to receive your personalized treatment plan, we welcome you to contact our team at Premier Dental Center

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