If you experience bleeding while brushing and flossing, it may be a sign of gum disease. While gum disease may not seem like a big deal, it can lead to serious oral health issues, including tooth loss, if left untreated. Seeking treatment for gum disease is key to protecting oral health. For those who suffer from tooth loss, dental implants can be paired with different restorations to replace one or more missing teeth, restoring dental function and improving oral health. For more information about treatments for tooth loss and gum disease, schedule a consultation with Bollingbrook, IL dentists Allan Libunao and Richard H. Kim.
WHAT IS GUM DISEASE?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is an infection of the gum tissue caused by bacteria found in plaque and tartar. Periodontal disease has two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis.
Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease most commonly recognized by bleeding gums while brushing and flossing. The gums may also appear inflamed and red, or feel tender when gingivitis is present. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis.
Periodontitis occurs as the gum disease infection spreads, resulting in serious oral health issues, including tooth decay and tooth loss. In addition to bleeding gums, periodontitis is recognized by gum recession and persistent bad breath.
HOW CAN GUM DISEASE CAUSE TOOTH LOSS?
Gum disease can be devastating to oral health. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to tooth decay, the spread of infection, and ultimately, tooth loss. There are a few ways in which gum disease can cause tooth loss, including:
- Pocket formation: Pockets may develop between the gums and teeth as plaque and tartar settle along the gum line. As more debris lodges between the gums and teeth, the pockets become larger, allowing bacteria to reach the tooth roots.
- Gum recession: Gum disease causes the gums to recede, allowing bacteria to reach areas of the teeth usually protected by the gums. This can result in tooth decay and tooth loss.
- Infection of underlying structures: As gum disease becomes more severe, bacterial infections can spread from the gums to surrounding tissues, including the jawbone. As the gum tissue and jawbone weaken from infection, they lose the ability to support the teeth, potentially leading to tooth loss.
- Tooth decay: Gum disease can cause tooth decay to occur along the tooth roots and other structures below the gum line. If tooth decay goes untreated, it can cause the tooth to become so damaged that the tooth cannot survive, leading to natural tooth loss or extraction.
TIPS TO PREVENT GUM DISEASE AND TOOTH LOSS
Tooth loss caused by gum disease is preventable by taking steps to treat it. Practicing proper oral hygiene daily is one of the most effective ways to prevent gum disease and protect your smile from tooth loss and other oral health issues. Follow these tips to keep your smile at its best for years to come.
- Brush at least twice a day: Brushing the teeth at least twice a day helps remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. To ensure your teeth are thoroughly brushed, be sure to brush for a full two minutes, using small strokes, and paying particular attention to the back teeth and gum line.
- Floss daily: Flossing is just as important as brushing the teeth, but many people tend to skip this vital step. Flossing reaches between the teeth and within the gum line where brushing alone often misses. In order to prevent gum disease, it’s essential to floss at least once a day.
- See your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings: Regular checkups and cleanings, at least once every six months, help catch oral health issues, like gum disease, early and before they can become severe. Professional cleanings also prevent plaque and tartar buildup where brushing and flossing at home can miss.
- Seek treatment for gum disease: It’s also important to seek treatment for gum disease if you notice any signs of gum disease, like bleeding gums. Early treatment is key to preventing tooth loss and other oral health problems associated with gum disease.
SEEK TREATMENT FOR TOOTH LOSS AND GUM DISEASE
If you suspect you have gum disease, or suffer from tooth loss, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Libunao and Kim to discover your treatment options.