Nothing defines your identity more than your smile. From charming, cute, flirtatious, cool, cheeky, and more, your smile can convey different emotions without uttering a single word. However, this asset relies on healthy gums and teeth to fulfill its duties. According to the CDC, gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss. To protect your smile, learn how to prevent and treat gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Also known as periodontitis, gum disease is a progressive infection of the gums. It is a bacterial infection that damages the gums and affects one tooth or several teeth. In some cases, only certain teeth like the molars are impacted. According to CDA, 7 out of 10 Canadians develop gum disease in their lives. This progressive disease begins as mild inflammation of the gums and worsens over time. If left untreated, periodontal disease can damage your gums and jawbone. You can lose your teeth and smile in the advanced stages due to bone loss and weakened gum tissues. It also increases the risk of developing systemic diseases, such as bacterial pneumonia and heart disease.
What is the most common cause of periodontal disease?
The primary cause of gum disease is the accumulation of harmful bacteria in the mouth due to poor dental hygiene. If you don't brush or floss your teeth, food debris and plaque can accumulate. It creates the ideal condition for harmful bacteria to reproduce and colonize your mouth. In addition, bacteria deposit and tartar accumulate plaque on your teeth.
You develop gingivitis after plaque and tartar buildup inflames the gums. This gunk also produces acids that irritate the gums and increase the risk of tooth decay. As the gum's inner layer recedes, periodontal pockets will develop around the gumline. These pockets accumulate food debris and bacteria, leading to severe gum infection. Other factors contribute to or hasten gum disease, including smoking, vitamin C deficiency, low immunity, poor overall health, and hormonal changes.
What are the four stages of periodontal disease?
The periodontal disease worsens over time. According to the American Dental Association, around 42% of Americans aged over 30 years have gum disease. But only 7.8% of the patients have severe periodontitis. Here are the four stages of periodontitis:
In this stage, plaque and tartar accumulate due to poor dental hygiene. It creates the ideal condition for bacterial growth. Your body's immune system fights the bacteria, leading to inflammation of the gums. Another warning sign of gingivitis is bleeding or irritated gums.
Early periodontal disease:
Gingivitis progresses to the early stages of periodontitis. Your gums can recede as your immune system fights the infection. Other signs include gums that easily bleed during brushing and periodontal pockets.
Moderate periodontal disease:
Gum recession and bleeding increase in this stage. You can experience pain around the gums and teeth—toxins produced by bacteria damage gum tissues and break down the bone. Your teeth can loosen over time due to bone loss.
Advanced periodontal disease:
In this stage, patients experience severe bone loss and tissue damage. Teeth become loose, leading to tooth loss. Other warning signs of advanced periodontal disease include bad breath, foul taste, and severe pain while chewing.
Can you stop periodontal disease from getting worse?
Yes, you can! Your dentist or dental hygienist can combine several treatments to stop the progression of gum disease. Professional teeth cleaning can remove plaque and tartar. Your dentist will also recommend brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste to improve oral health. But you'll need targeted treatments to address advanced periodontitis.
Preventing gum disease is better than treating it. Maintaining good oral hygiene is the most effective way to prevent the onset of gingivitis. To avoid plaque and tartar buildup, brush and floss your teeth twice a day. You should also schedule regular dental checkups and eat balanced diets to enhance overall health.
Here are four frequently asked questions about periodontal health and your smile and how gum disease causes tooth loss:
Is periodontitis curable?
Periodontitis is treatable, but it is not curable. Your dentist or dental hygienist can examine your teeth and gums to determine the progression of gum disease. Then, they'll recommend one or several treatments to mitigate and eradicate the infection. Most cases of periodontitis require antiseptic rinses, antibiotics, or prescription medications. In addition, patients with gum recession need gum grafts to rebuild the damaged gumline.
Does gum disease make your teeth fall out?
According to statistics, around 70% of tooth loss in adults is linked to gum disease. The risk of tooth loss increases as periodontal inflammation progresses. In the advanced stage, periodontitis can damage the supporting structures of the teeth and hasten bone loss. If left untreated, your teeth will loosen and eventually fall off.
What does periodontal pain feel like?
Most patients with gingivitis don't experience any pain. Periodontal pain begins in the moderate and advanced stages. Chewing food with loosened teeth and irritated gums is painful. But you can avoid this nightmarish experience by maintaining good dental hygiene and oral care routines.
Can I save my teeth from periodontal disease?
Yes, you can. Seeking treatment for periodontal disease can help you save your teeth and charming smile. But losing a tooth to gum disease doesn't mean you've lost your smile forever. With dental implants, your Toronto dentist can give you replacement teeth. Dental implants can restore function and your charming smile.
Toronto Smile Design’s Dr. Johnson Ozgur is a Toronto Dentist with a Master's Degree in Oral Surgery. He has years of experience in General and Cosmetic Dentistry, experienced in teeth cleaning, periodontal treatments, dental implants, porcelain veneers, crowns, bridges, and more. For a professional dental care, contact Toronto Smile Design - Yorkville Dental today!