Tooth loss is normal when the milk teeth of kids become loose and fall out. The permanent or adult teeth then replace the lost ones. However, tooth loss becomes undesirable when it occurs in older children or adults. Such a condition can result from injury or diseases such as gum or periodontal disease.
This disease is the prevalent cause of tooth loss in adults. When your teeth fall out, the bone in the area where the teeth are missing will stop growing, leading to bone loss. Eventually, the jaw shrinks and becomes less stable to bear the remaining teeth. The shrunk jaw alters your face shape and even your smile. Fortunately, orthognathic surgery can help correct the jaw.
What Is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a gum infection that damages the soft tissue of the gum. If left untreated, it can result in tooth loss and subsequent bone loss. The gum disease results from poor oral care. The buildup of plaque on the teeth favors the growth of bacteria, which produces toxins. These toxins irritate the gum, leading to the damage of the soft tissue. If left untreated, this condition can destroy the bone that bears the teeth.
The tooth is attached to the gum at a lower point below the visible gum line. An infection is likely to develop if plaque forms in this area. Food particles mixed with saliva and bacteria form a sticky deposit, called plaque, along the gum line and between the teeth. Plaque is a pale yellow or colorless film. If not regularly removed, it hardens and becomes tartar (a yellow or brown deposit).
The bacteria in plaque initiate gum disease by causing the inflammation of the gum (gingivitis). The red, swollen gum easily bleeds during flossing or brushing of the teeth. The severity of this condition varies. Without treatment, the infection progresses from the gum to the bone. It can lead to the separation of the gum from the teeth.
It does not stop there. A more severe condition known as periodontitis or gum disease develops. The affected tooth becomes loose and may fall out. Tooth loss in adults mainly results from periodontitis.
Symptoms Of Periodontitis
Healthy gums fit closely around the teeth. They are firm and pink in color. However, you may experience the following symptoms if you have periodontitis.
- Red, swollen, or tender gums.
- Gums that easily bleed.
- Receding gums, which make your teeth appear longer than real.
- Bad breath or taste that doesn’t disappear even after brushing the teeth.
- Presence of pus between the teeth
- Loose teeth
- Pain when chewing
- Development of new spaces between your teeth.
You have gum disease if you notice that you spit out blood when you floss or brush your teeth. Besides, your partial dentures, if you are using them, can no longer fit your gum. It is possible not to notice these symptoms when you have periodontitis. Fortunately, regular visits to the dentist will help early detection of the condition.
Risk Factors Of Periodontitis
Poor oral hygiene is the primary cause of periodontitis or gum diseases. However, some factors can increase your risk of developing this condition. They include:
- Chewing tobacco or smoking cigarettes, which prevents the healing of the gum tissue.
- Diabetes mellitus disrupts the healing gum and circulation.
- Hormonal changes that happen during puberty, menopause, and pregnancy.
- Health conditions that lower the body’s immune system, such as cancer, leukemia, and HIV/AIDS.
- Crooked teeth, which create more space for the buildup of plaque and hamper oral hygiene.
- The deficiency of vitamin C weakens the ability of gum tissues to heal.
- Poor nutrition, including low water intake and high consumption of carbohydrates, favors the formation of plaque.
- Alcohol intake lowers the oral defense mechanism.
- Intake of certain medications like steroids and oral contraceptives increases the risk of periodontitis.
- Stress also weakens the body’s immune against bacterial attacks.
Can Periodontitis Lead To Complications?
Gum disease not only affects the mouth but can also other parts of the body. The bacteria from plaque can enter the bloodstream and lead to other health conditions. Consequently, periodontitis increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lung disease. It also increases the risk of low birth weight in infants or the delivery of preterm babies.
Treatment Of Periodontitis
Good oral hygiene is necessary for the treatment of gum disease. But that’s not all. You need to identify the factors that increase the risk of periodontitis and eliminate them. Quit smoking or tobacco use and properly manage diabetes or other health conditions, which increase susceptibility to gum disease.
The following non-surgical treatments are effective in reversing the early stage of periodontitis:
- Root planing is performed to smooth the rough root surfaces and prevent the formation of tartar and the growth of bacteria.
- Scaling to remove tartar from the tooth surface and below the gum line. An ultrasonic device or laser can be used to carry out the treatment.
- Use of oral and topical (mouthwash and insertion gel) antibiotics to control bacterial infection. Oral antibiotics are effective in the treatment of gum inflammation. Besides, you can use an antiseptic mouthwash to disinfect your mouth. After root planing, the insertion gel is inserted in the pockets
The treatment of advanced periodontitis may require surgery like bone and soft tissue graft and flap surgery.
Prevention of Periodontitis
Flossing and brushing of teeth remove food particles and discourages the buildup of plaque. Here are other factors that can help prevent gum disease.
- Eat a balanced diet to help boost the body’s immune system.
- Stop smoking to maintain healthy gum.
- Reduce stress to improve your immune system.
- Regular dental care. Visit your dentist for a professional dental cleaning to remove tartar. Besides, regular dental visits offer your dentist the opportunity to detect early symptoms of gum disease.
Limit the consumption of foods and drinks with high sugar content to prevent bacterial invasion on your teeth. In addition to flossing and brushing of teeth, therapeutic mouthwash can discourage the formation of plaque. It can also remove food particles trapped between the teeth. Also, use fluoride toothpaste to kill bacteria in the mouth.