How often does gum disease cause tooth loss?

gum disease tooth loss

Did you know that untreated gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults?

According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), nearly 70 percent of American adults 65 or older have periodontal disease. And approximately one in five adults in that age group have lost all their teeth. And when compared to adults 65-74, those 75 and older are twice as likely to have complete tooth loss.

Not in this age group yet? Consider that 50 percent, or almost 65 million American adults, have gum disease that puts them at risk for future tooth loss.

If you are missing one tooth, all your teeth, or are somewhere in between, you may wonder what the best restoration option is.

Dr. Rod Gleave is an experienced cosmetic dentist in the Salt Lake City, UT, area. He has restored beautiful, natural-looking smiles for hundreds of patients who have lost teeth due to periodontal disease. He can help you decide the best restoration option for you.

Why does gum disease lead to tooth loss?

The health of your gums directly impacts the health of your teeth. The mildest form of gum disease, gingivitis, frequently goes unnoticed. But as it progresses, it begins to cause problems.

Some of the most common issues include:

  • Swelling of the gums
  • Red gums
  • Sensitivity
  • Painful chewing
  • Spaces between teeth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath

At this stage, stepping up on your oral hygiene routine and visiting your dentist for professional cleaning may be all that is needed.

However, these symptoms may not occur until the gum disease progresses to periodontitis. That is why routine visits to your dentist are so important. During this visit, your dental professional will examine you for any signs or symptoms of gum disease.

With periodontitis, the gums pull away from the teeth, causing gum recession and pockets in the gum tissue. The pockets and recession break the protective barrier between the gums and jawbone and allow bacteria and plaque to reach the supporting structures of the teeth.

When bacteria and plaque reach the jawbone, destruction of bone and the ligaments that keep teeth in place occurs. This destruction reduces tooth attachment, causing teeth to become loose. As it progresses, tooth loss occurs.  

Why is tooth loss a concern?

While children view losing a tooth as an exciting “rite of passage” into adulthood and celebrate the coming of the tooth fairy, loss of an adult tooth can be quite distressing. It can also lead to a myriad of problems.

If a lost tooth is not replaced, it can cause many issues, including:

  • Less smiling. Many patients are embarrassed about the gap in their teeth, so they smile less. This can negatively affect overall emotional health and self-confidence.
  • Shifting and drifting of the remaining teeth due to the gap left behind. As if the gap isn’t embarrassing enough, the remaining teeth become crooked. This makes the smile even less appealing. Also, crooked teeth are harder to keep clean, which increases the risk for both tooth decay and severe gum disease, which can lead to further tooth loss and the need for further restorative dentistry.
  • Misaligned bite. As the teeth shift and move, the change in bite can affect chewing and nutrition. It can also lead to speech difficulties and problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
  • Bone loss. When a tooth root is missing, bone deterioration occurs in the jaw. This can lead to further tooth loss and result in a “sinking in” appearance of the face.

If You Have Lost a Tooth or Teeth to Gum Disease

Whether your tooth loss is a result of gum disease, decay, or trauma, it is important to replace it.

Dr. Gleave offers several solutions, depending on your desires and how many teeth you have lost.

The best solution usually begins with a dental implant, which replaces the lost tooth root. A dental implant stimulates the gums to prevent bone deterioration.

The restorative dentistry options for replacing the visible part of a missing tooth or teeth are:

  • Dental Crown

This is a tooth-shaped cap connected to the dental implant to fill in the gap of a missing tooth.

  • Implant-Supported Dental Bridge

This option is good for patients missing up to three adjacent teeth. It requires the placement of two dental implants to anchor it in place and uses pontics, or fake teeth, to “bridge the gap” left behind from missing teeth.

  • Implant-Supported Dentures

Rather than the old-fashioned removable dentures that can slip and fall out with eating and talking, these are a permanent solution to replace an entire arch of missing teeth.

Reverse the Consequences of Tooth Loss from Gum Disease

It’s a new year, and it’s time to restore your smile!

Call (801) 262-0744 or contact us online today for your consultation. Together, we can determine the best option for you.

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