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Protect Your Smile from Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

Craig Goldin DDS Aug 12, 2016

An illustration of healthy gums and gums with periodontitisMost commonly recognized by bleeding gums when brushing or flossing, gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a serious oral health issue that can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. There are a variety of restorative dentistry treatments available to improve gum health, repair dental damage, and replace missing teeth for a beautiful, flawless smile. To learn more about your treatment options for gum disease and tooth loss, schedule a consultation with our Troy, MI team of dentists at the Cosmetic Dentistry Institute.

How Does Gum Disease Lead to Tooth Loss?

Gum disease is an infection of the gums most commonly caused by bacteria from plaque and tartar buildup along the gum line. In the initial stages, known as gingivitis, the gums may bleed when brushing or flossing and they may look red and inflamed. As gum disease progresses to the more severe stage, called periodontitis, plaque and tartar buildup may cause pockets, or gaps, to develop between the gums and the teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and allowing the infection to spread below the gum line. If left untreated, periodontitis can cause tooth loss in a number of ways, including:

  • Tooth decay: Gum disease increases the risk of tooth decay, which can cause tooth loss if left untreated. Decayed teeth may become so damaged that they require extraction or fall out on their own due to damage to the roots and tissues nourishing the teeth.
  • Pockets between the gums: Pockets between the gums allow plaque and bacteria to reach the underlying structures supporting the teeth and can lead to tooth decay at the roots.
  • Gum recession: Gum disease can also cause gum recession. When gum recession occurs, the gums loosen their hold on the teeth and areas below the gum line are exposed to bacteria, both of which increase the risk of tooth loss.
  • Infection below the gum line: Gum disease is an infection and it can spread beyond the gums and affect other structures, like the jawbone.

Prevent Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

By taking steps to prevent gum disease, you can also prevent tooth loss. Some ways to keep your smile healthy and reduce your risk of gum disease and tooth loss include:

  • Don't skip flossing: Flossing is one of the most effective ways to prevent gum disease because it removes plaque and bacteria from the gum line and between the teeth where brushing can't reach.
  • Brush twice a day: Brushing also helps prevent gum disease (and tooth decay) and should be done at least twice a day.
  • Rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash: Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash after brushing and flossing can protect the gums from periodontal disease.
  • Schedule regular dental exams and cleanings: Regular dental exams and cleanings are essential for protecting gum and dental health and should be performed every six months.

Treatments for Gum Disease and Tooth Loss

There are many treatments available for restoring gum health and replacing missing teeth. The right treatment for each patient depends on the severity of gum disease and the extent of tooth loss but may include:

  • Root planing and scaling: Root planing and scaling is a deep cleaning treatment used to remove plaque and tartar at and below the gum line, helping to close pockets and treat gum disease.
  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be used alone, in cases of mild gum disease, or paired with other gum disease treatments, like root planing and scaling.
  • Gum surgery: Gum surgery may be necessary when gum disease is severe. There are different types of gum surgery available, including the flap procedure, to restore gum health.
  • Dental implants: Missing teeth may be permanently replaced with dental implants. Dental implants may be paired with dental crowns to restore individual teeth, implant-supported bridges to replace multiple teeth, or implant-supported dentures to replace a full arch of missing teeth.

Seek Treatment for Gum Disease and Restore Oral Health

To find out which treatments are right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation at the Cosmetic Dentistry Institute.

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