Suffering from gum disease or tooth loss is not only physically uncomfortable, but it can also have a significant impact on your confidence and self-esteem. The media is full of celebrities with healthy-looking pearly whites so it’s easy to think you’re the only one struggling with oral hygiene. According to the Department of Health, around 23% of the Australian population suffer from periodontitis (gum disease).
Many dental health problems are preventable and understanding the causes of gum disease and tooth loss is crucial in taking active steps towards reducing your chances of developing such issues. Here are the ways gum disease and tooth loss can develop and what you can do to avoid them.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection that damages the soft tissue and, if not treated, the bones that support your teeth. It is a common condition that’s often preventable if good oral hygiene is maintained. Symptoms include:
- Red, swollen, or tender gums
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Consistently bad breath
- Receding gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth
Causes of Gum Disease
Gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque on the teeth. Plaque is a soft, sticky substance that coats the teeth and contains millions of bacteria. If plaque isn’t removed through regular teeth brushing and flossing, it can irritate your gums and eventually result in tooth decay and periodontitis.
However, poor oral hygiene is just one of the several causes of gum disease and tooth loss. Several factors increase your risk of developing these conditions such as smoking, stress, old age, health problems like diabetes, and malnutrition.
If you are concerned that you might be suffering from gum disease, book a dental exam with your dentist. They can advise you on things you can do at home and offer professional treatment such as periodontal therapy.
Common Causes of Tooth Loss and How to Prevent It
In extreme cases, where there has been extensive damage to the soft tissue and bone, periodontitis can lead to mobile teeth and even tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is one of the leading causes of tooth loss. In addition to gum disease, other factors can contribute to tooth loss.
From dramatic incidents like falling off a bike to a mundane slip-up like cracking a tooth on a piece of toffee, accidents are another major cause of tooth loss. Sometimes there is nothing that can be done to prevent these events from occurring. Nonetheless, there are definite steps that can be taken to mitigate the risk of damaging your smile.
Sports accidents cause a significant number of dental injuries. If you play contact sports, always wear a mouthguard and protective headgear. Stop and think about the way you use your teeth. Do you open lids, cut tags, or loosen knots with them? How about chewing ice or cracking open nuts? Avoiding doing these things can help you sidestep tooth loss, chipping, and other tooth damage.
Cavities are holes in the teeth caused by tooth decay. If left untreated, they can destroy the pulp (the inside) of your tooth and lead to a root canal or tooth removal. Regularly eating and drinking sugary treats increases your chances of getting cavities.
Reducing your intake of foods that are high in sugar, brushing and flossing your teeth daily, and making frequent trips to the dentist improves the health of your teeth and helps you avoid cavities.
Other causes of tooth loss include smoking, poor nutrition, and tooth grinding. Some links have also been found to health issues such as hypertension, arthritis, and diabetes.
What Are My Treatment Options?
While the causes of gum disease and tooth loss can often be avoided, if you’ve lost a tooth, you want to know the replacement options.
When it comes to gum disease, preventative measures like routinely brushing, flossing, and using antiseptic mouthwash can be performed at home. Dentists can provide treatments such as:
- Scale and polish (which removes plaque and tartar)
- Root planing/debridement (a deep cleaning under the gums)
- Periodontal surgery (retracts the gum to clean periodontal pockets)
If tooth loss occurs, various treatment options can help you get your smile back. These include:
- Dental implants
- Tooth or implant-supported bridge
- Partial or complete dentures
Dental implants are the only permanent tooth replacement option, and with proper care, they can last you for decades. Dental implants are more expensive initially, but over time, they cost less than the rest of tooth replacement alternatives.
Bridges and dentures do not provide the proper amount of pressure needed to maintain bone density in your jaw. While they may be a more affordable upfront cost, over time, the cost of replacements and further dental work may surpass the cost of dental implants.
Gum disease and tooth loss is something that many of us will have to deal with at some point during our lives. Fortunately, there is a lot of help, advice and treatments available from dental professionals you can trust. At Toothsome, our highly-qualified dental specialist Dr Patty Chou Periodontist cares about your gum and dental health.
Contact us for advice and to book an appointment:
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.