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How Tooth Loss and Gum Disease Are Linked

July 2, 2016 — by John Meola
Tags: Gum Disease Restorative Dentistry General Dentistry Missing Teeth

The effects of gum diseaseHere at Dental Associates of New England, we believe that all parts of a patient's smile are important. That goes for the teeth, the gums, and even the bone and joint structures. Our holistic approach to dental care is what makes us a leading practice in the Boston area.

Some patients who are missing teeth experience that issue as a result of gum disease. Let's take a moment to consider the link between gum disease and tooth loss and then discuss restorative dentistry treatments such as dental implants, which can help remedy issues with missing teeth.

About Gum Disease

Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue that is caused by the bacteria that naturally occurs in the mouth. This is the same bacteria that is responsible for tooth decay and bad breath.

When the gums become inflamed, a number of health issues may arise, affecting the soft and hard tissues of the mouth.

The Stages of Gum Disease

There are three stages of gum disease. Listed from least serious to most serious:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Advanced periodontitis

Minor symptoms are common with gingivitis, such as bleeding gums, strange taste in the mouth, swollen gums, and irritated gums.

The Dangers of Advanced Periodontitis

As gum disease progresses, the inflammation that occurs can lead to serious damage of the gum tissue. This includes problems with gum recession, which exposes more of a tooth's root structure. When tooth roots become exposed, it's possible for tooth decay to occur under the gumline, making root canal infections and serious decay more likely, which may necessitate tooth extraction for proper treatment.

The gums may continue to become swollen and deteriorate in terms of health, resulting in teeth shifting from their original positions. As teeth shift and become loose, they are more likely to fall out.

Gum Disease, Smoking, and Tooth Loss

In addition to the dangers of gum disease per se, the risks of tooth loss go up if you are a smoker. Men and women who smoke regularly and heavily for 10 years are likely to be missing 1 to 3 teeth.

One of the main reasons for this is that smoking makes gum disease more likely to occur since smokers are more prone to infection. With an increased risk of gum disease comes an increased risk of tooth loss.

Treatments for Gum Disease

When it comes to treating gum disease, the best options will typically first involve getting the infection under control. This can be achieved through antiseptic rinses and medications. If you have suffered from gum recession, grafting procedures can be performed to rebuild the gumline.

Treatments for Tooth Loss

If you have lost a tooth because of gum disease, there are many options for replacing the missing tooth or teeth. Removable appliances such as dental bridges and dentures are a good option to consider. Some patients may be eligible to get dental implants, which are artificial tooth roots that are surgically anchored into the jawbone and gum tissue.

The ideal treatment for your tooth loss can be discussed in greater detail during your visit to the practice.

Tips for Preventing Gum Disease

To prevent gum disease from happening, consider the following oral hygiene tips:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day (ideally after every meal)
  • Floss your teeth at least once a night (ideally after every meal)
  • Avoid the use of tobacco products
  • Visit your dentist for regular checkups twice a year

Contact Dental Associates of New England

To learn more about gum disease, tooth loss, and other issues related to overall dental health and wellness, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at Dental Associates of New England will help you smile with confidence again.