Gum disease remains the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States. But how does a condition of the gums have such a profound impact on your teeth? Although they may seem insignificant, the soft tissue structure of your gums provide support and stability to your teeth. If your gums are infected or diseased, it can weaken your teeth and your jawbone. Gum disease has also been linked to heart disease, diabetes, premature birth and stroke.
Gum disease typically begins as gingivitis, or mild inflammation of the gums. However, if left untreated, gum disease can wreak havoc on your smile. When the toxins in plaque irritate the gums, a chronic inflammatory response causes your body to destroy its own bone and soft tissue. This means that your gums will start to detach or pull away from your teeth and deep pockets will form at your gum line. Advanced gum disease can also cause bone loss in your jaw. Without the proper supportive framework of your gums as well as a secure foundation in your jawbone, your teeth may become loose, fall out or need to be extracted.
Gum disease is absolutely treatable, but it requires the attention of your dentist. Many dentists offer advanced periodontal treatments such as soft-tissue lasers or scaling and root planing to eradicate gum disease. If it is too late to save your tooth (or multiple teeth) from the effects of gum disease, dental implants may be the best solution to restore your smile. If you are getting dental implants after gum disease, it is important that your gum health is successfully restored. In some cases, a tissue regeneration procedure may be necessary prior to your dental implants placement to strengthen your jaw bone.
The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good oral hygiene and see your dentist on a regular basis. Smoking is also a leading cause of gum disease in many adults. If you have further questions about gum disease and tooth loss, please ask Wayne G. Suway, DDS, MAGD. It is never too late to restore your smile!