Does Gum Disease Always Lead to Tooth Loss?
By Joe McIntyre, DDS on July 17, 2021
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, develops when plaque builds up along the gum line and turns into tartar. When the tartar isn’t removed, the bacteria irritate the gingiva (gum tissue), creating small pockets between the gum tissue and the tooth. These pockets grow and cause the gums to recede while also affecting the bone surrounding the teeth, causing them to loosen and even fall out.
Periodontal care is the key to disrupting this process. Periodontal care involves good oral hygiene and professional intervention. Our dentists at Smiles for Life serving Harrisonburg and Staunton, VA offer education and preventive treatment that help patients avoid gum disease and tooth loss. We also provide treatments to reverse and manage periodontal disease.
Symptoms of Gum Disease
Before tooth loss occurs, people with the disease will most likely experience several noticeable symptoms, such as:
- Red or discolored gums
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Bite changes
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Pus between teeth
- Loose teeth
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease. During this stage, patients may notice that their gums bleed while brushing and flossing. As gingivitis progresses into periodontitis, patients will experience more serious symptoms, including changes to tooth alignment and tooth loss. Professional periodontal care is crucial for treating the infected gum tissue and preventing tooth loss.
Factors That Increase the Risk of Tooth Loss
In addition to untreated periodontitis, these factors could increase your risk of losing one or more teeth:
- Tobacco use
- Hormonal changes
- Taking certain medications
- Poor oral hygiene habits
Unfortunately, some people don’t realize they have gum disease until their teeth are either loose or falling out. Be mindful of the symptoms and risk factors we’ve listed, and be sure to speak with our dentists as soon as possible should any become apparent.
Professional Periodontal Care for Gum Disease
At Smiles for Life, our team focuses mainly on preventing gum disease. However, we also offer effective treatment for patients who develop periodontal disease.
Scaling and root planing is the most common gum disease treatment. Scaling involves gently removing tartar from above and below the gum line. This process prevents bacteria from attacking the soft and hard tissues in the mouth. Then, the dentist smooths out the roots (root planing) of the teeth to encourage the gums to reattach to the teeth.
Following treatment, patients may experience tooth sensitivity and swollen and tender gums. Patients may be prescribed medication or a mouth rinse to prevent infection.
To stop periodontal disease from progressing, patients must commit to practicing good oral hygiene at home.
Treatment for Tooth Loss
For patients who have experienced tooth loss as a result of gum disease, our dentists offer several restorative treatments, including dental bridges, dentures, and dental implants. Dental implants in particular provide excellent support for a false tooth or a set of false teeth. All of these restorative options can restore the appearance and function of your smile.
Learn More About Periodontal Care
If you have gum disease, you are at risk for tooth loss. At Smiles for Life, we prioritize prevention and intervention to stop the development of periodontal disease. Whether you want to avoid gum disease or need treatment for it, our team serving the Harrisonburg area can help. Contact us today at (540) 887-3304 or request an appointment online.