Gum Disease and the Risk of Tooth Loss

Nov 1, 2016 @ 12:00 PM — by drmori

An illustration of healthy gums and gums with periodontitisGum disease, also called periodontal disease, can quickly progress from a little bleeding when brushing and flossing to something more serious, like tooth decay and tooth loss. Seeking treatment for gum disease at the first signs of infection is key to preventing dental damage and protecting oral health. Restorative dentistry treatments can treat the damage caused by gum disease, including tooth loss, for restored oral health and dental function. To discover your treatment options for gum disease and tooth loss, schedule a consultation with Staten Island, NY dentist Joseph T. Mormino.

The Signs of Gum Disease

Gum disease is an infection of the gums and is most easily recognized by bleeding gums when brushing and flossing. During the early stages of gum disease, called gingivitis, the gums may appear inflamed or red and may feel tender. As gum disease progresses to periodontitis, gum bleeding may worsen and pockets may develop between the gums and teeth. The teeth may also begin to show signs of damage like tooth decay or increased sensitivity.

Gum Disease and the Risk of Tooth Loss

Gum disease poses many risks to oral health, including a spread of infection and tooth loss. Gum disease is particularly dangerous to oral health because many of the oral health problems associated with gum disease combine to accelerate the damage caused by this infection.

Each one of the following oral health issues caused by gum disease may act alone or with another to increase the risk of tooth loss.

  • Periodontal pockets: Periodontal pockets are gaps that form between the gums and teeth as a result of plaque and tartar build up. Once pockets form, more plaque, tartar, and food debris will settle between the gums and teeth, leaving the structures below the gum line vulnerable to decay. If left untreated, the pockets will enlarge and eventually lead to tooth loss.
  • Tooth decay: Gum disease is caused by a build up of plaque and tartar, which also causes tooth decay. If tooth decay is left untreated, it can cause an infection of the tooth's pulp tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. This is known as a root canal infection. Root canal infections are painful, as they directly impact the tooth's nerves. They are also dangerous to the health of the tooth, as they can cause damage to the blood vessels that nourish the tooth. Root canal infections can cause the tooth to die and fall out or require extraction.
  • Gum recession: Gum disease can also lead to gum recession. As the gums recede, the teeth may become loose, eventually falling out.
  • Spread of infection: Gum disease is a bacterial infection and, like any infection, it can spread beyond the gums and damage the structures supporting the teeth, like the jawbone, and cause tooth loss.

Preventing Gum Disease

The best way to prevent gum disease and tooth loss is to practice good oral hygiene habits. Brushing for a full two minutes at least twice a day and flossing along each side of each tooth at least once a day are highly effective ways to prevent gum disease and other oral health problems. In addition to daily oral hygiene habits, seeing your dentist every six months for a regular check-up and cleaning can prevent plaque build up, catch oral health issues early, and protect the gums and teeth.

Which Treatments Are Right for You? 

Don't let gum disease and tooth loss keep you from sharing your smile. Dr. Mormino offers a variety of treatments to stop the progression of gum disease and restore oral health. To find out which treatments are right for your needs, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mormino at your earliest convenience.

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