Americans are no strangers to tooth loss — one quarter of adults in the United states over the age of 65 have eight or fewer teeth. Americans are also quite familiar with gum disease — nearly 50% of adults 30 years old and older have some form of the problem, and this number jumps to more than 70% for adults 65 and older. Coincidence? Hardly.
The connection between gum disease and tooth loss is a direct one, which means that recognizing the signs of gum disease, and seeking treatment, can help you preserve your teeth for years to come.
To that end, Drs. Roge Jacob and Magdalena Azzarelli, who head up the team here at Hillsdale Dental Care, are taking this opportunity to review the signs of gum disease.
Like many diseases, periodontitis is small when it first takes hold, but all too soon the problem can worsen and spread, threatening your overall oral health.
To better illustrate this point, here’s a look at the four stages of gum disease:
In this earliest stage of gum disease, bacteria make their way under your gum line, which leads to inflammation. You may notice redness around your gum line, as well as tenderness and some bleeding when you brush your teeth.
Left unchecked, your gingivitis can quickly turn to early periodontitis, and your gums begin to pull away from your teeth and pockets can form between your teeth and gums that harbor destructive bacteria.
The symptoms, at this point, include those that come with gingivitis — tenderness and bleeding — but they’re more severe.
At this stage of gum disease, you’ll notice your gums receding and you may encounter loose teeth as the bacteria eat away at the soft and hard tissues in your jaws.
With advanced gum disease, tooth loss is almost inevitable as the condition has all but destroyed the support of your teeth, as well as your gums. Preceding your tooth loss, you may experience extremely foul breath, pain while chewing, and very loose teeth.
The one bright light in the gum disease picture is that there’s much we can do to prevent tooth loss and reverse the disease, if we can intervene early enough.
Through your regular dental exams and cleanings with us, we’re always on the lookout for signs of gum disease. If you begin to notice problems between appointments, such as sensitive gums or small amounts of blood when you brush, you should make an appointment to come see us for a periodontal treatment.
If we find evidence of gingivitis, the odds are good that we can remedy the problem with a professional cleaning.
If your gingivitis has crossed over into periodontitis and pockets have formed in your gums, we turn to a deeper cleaning in which we use a root scaling and planing technique.
With moderate cases of periodontitis, we can perform more aggressive gum procedures using our advanced laser gum therapy.
Unfortunately, once the support systems that stabilize your teeth have been destroyed, there’s not much we can do to preserve your teeth. At this point, we recommend extraction and finding suitable alternatives for your missing teeth, such as implants, bridges, or dentures. Still, this route is far preferable to letting periodontitis run its course as the disease can eventually erode your jawbone, giving you a sunken-in appearance.
If you want to smile, chew, and talk with ease, long into the future, we urge you to recognize the signs of gum disease so that we can take early action. To learn more or to set up an appointment, contact our office in San Jose, California, by clicking here.