Over 75% of Americans suffer from some form of gum disease and tooth loss. Indeed, this inflammatory disorder has reached epidemic proportions. Due to the subtle nature of the disease, many people have no idea they even have gum disease until it has reached an advanced stage. While you can effectively treat and even reverse the earliest form of gum disease, known as gingivitis, advanced gum disease, or periodontitis, requires invasive treatment and can lead to tooth loss. Dr. David Zelby, your Atlanta dentist and prosthodontist, discusses the stages of gum disease, how gum disease causes tooth loss, and options for people who have lost teeth to this disorder.
The Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease begins innocuously enough, with the buildup of plaque along the gum line. Plaque both contains and attracts bacteria. As the bacteria digest microscopic bits of sugar and starch, they create an acidic by-product that irritates your gums. At this point, the symptoms of gum disease begin to present:
1) Gingivitis: Your body reacts to the irritation and the bacterial presence by causing the gums to retract from the teeth. Gingivitis causes no pain but you will notice that your gums bleed or look bright red after normal brushing and flossing.
2) Gum Disease: If left untreated, gingivitis can advance to gum disease. As the gum recede, they form pockets that encourage further bacterial buildup. Your body reacts to the continuing presence of bacterial infection by causing further inflammation and by destroying the infected tissues.
How Gum Disease Causes Tooth Loss
A hard connective tissue called cementum holds your tooth in place. As gum disease worsens, your body begins to destroy the connective tissue in an attempt to kill the infection. As the connective tissue dies, your teeth loosen in their sockets. At this point, you will need to have the loose teeth extracted by your dentist. However, if you catch gum disease early enough, your dentist has several options for treating gum disease and saving your teeth, including deep cleaning and laser therapy.
Replacement Options After Gum Disease Related Tooth Loss
If you lose a tooth to gum disease, you will need to replace it as soon as possible or risk serious oral health issues such as an increased risk for further gum disease, tooth decay, and TMJ disorders. A skilled prosthodontist can provide you will several tooth replacement options, including dental implants, a fixed bridge, or partial dentures. Of course, your best option is avoiding gum disease altogether via consistent at-home care and regular preventive checkups with your dentist.
Tooth Replacement in Atlanta
If you have irritated or bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, or loosened teeth, call Dr. David Zelby at (770) 955-0550. Dr. Zelby and the expert team at Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta can return your smile to optimal health, function, and beauty. Our Atlanta dentist office proudly serves patients in Marietta, Smyrna, East Cobb, Buckhead, Vinings, and Metro Atlanta.