Are you worried about the loss of teeth? Do you think there is the possibility of one or more of your teeth being lost? There are several reasons why someone is at risk of tooth loss and the problem can affect anyone at any age.
There are a number of reasons that as adults, we can lose our teeth. You can lose teeth in an accident or as a result of medical conditions, but one of the leading causes of lost teeth is the serious, irreversible stage of gum disease called peridontitis.
Healthy gums are vital to the health of your teeth.
Periodontitis is often known as ‘Gum Disease’ and is a very common condition in which the gums and deeper periodontal structures become inflamed. This inflammation of the gums, which usually takes the form of redness, swelling and a tendency to bleed during tooth brushing, is the body’s response to certain bacteria that have been allowed to accumulate on the teeth. Although part of the body’s defence system, this inflammatory response can eventually cause serious damage. If left unchecked, the inflammation can spread down below the gums and along the roots of the teeth, causing destruction of the periodontal ligament and the supporting bone. This ultimately leads to the loosening and potential loss of the teeth.
What is Periodontitis?
Periodontitis is inflammation of the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. It is one of the most common human diseases.
The journey of gum disease begins with a build up of plaque bacteria, which can irritate the gums. This can make them red and swollen and they may also bleed when you brush and floss. These are the signs of the first stage of gum disease, gingivitis. If this is left untreated it can develop into the irreversible second stage, periodontitis and eventually tooth loss.
This is because the build-up of plaque bacteria can cause the gums to recede from the teeth, leaving tiny spaces where more plaque can collect and infections occur. Left untreated, these infections may impact the bone and tissues in your gums that provide the support structure for your teeth, if this is damaged, teeth may become loose.
Periodontitis (or periodontal disease) is a bacterial infection of the specialised tissues, ligaments and bones that surround and support your teeth, collectively known as the periodontium.
Periodontitis is the final destination on the journey of gum disease. Unlike gingivitis, it cannot be reversed and often has serious, long lasting consequences for how your teeth and gums look and feel. It may lead to the permanent loss of teeth. For this reason, it is extremely important that you do not let things get this far, and become aware of the periodontitis symptoms. Periodontitis treatment requires medical or dental attention.
Symptoms of periodontitis can include:
- bad breath
- an unpleasant taste in your mouth
- loose teeth
- gum abscesses
During the first part of a dental check up your dentist may take what is called a ‘history’, which helps the dentist to build up a picture of your health and risk factors. You may be asked questions like these:
- Are you experiencing any signs of gum disease, such as bleeding or swollen gums?
- Have you had treatment for gum disease before?
- Do you smoke or do you have a family history of gum disease?
- Questions about your oral health routine, such as how often do you brush your teeth?
By asking these questions your dentist can work out if you are more likely to have gum disease. If you have had previous dental treatment for gum disease, or have early symptoms of gum disease it alerts your dentist to potential problems. If you smoke or have a family history of gum disease you are at higher risk and if you don’t have a good oral health routine then you are more likely to suffer from gum problems.
What are the risk factors for periodontitis?
There are a number of factors that increase your chance of developing periodontitis and make it more likely to progress. Well-known risk factors include stress, some systemic diseases such as diabetes, and – most importantly – smoking.
How is periodontitis treated?
With careful assessment and treatment, it is usually possible to completely halt the progress of periodontitis. The key to success is to eliminate the bacterial plaque which is triggering the disease process and to establish excellent oral hygiene practices.