It would surprise many of our patients to know that the average American adult, on average, has three missing teeth, or teeth that will be missing soon; sometimes as a result of injury, but more often due to disease or neglect (and usually both).
When we see the signs and symptoms of a problem that can lead to tooth loss, we take action immediately, and create a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan. Even in a practice like ours where we’re very fortunate to treat some very accomplished patients (who come from all over the Greater Houston area to get the best in concierge dentistry), we see the damage that tooth loss causes.
The most common cause of tooth loss in the US is periodontal disease. Also referred to simply as gum disease, periodontal disease can destroy your oral health, degrade your oral tissues (including the bone in your jaw), until finally teeth loosen to the point where they fall out on their own, or they are extracted by an oral surgeon.
Gum disease is widespread, afflicting 50% of all American adults over the age of 30. Even so, gum disease is relatively easy to prevent. With good oral hygiene habits and regular visits to your dentist for deep cleaning and examinations, you can stop gum disease from happening and ruining your smile.
How Could I Have Gum Disease? I Don’t Feel Anything.
This is precisely why we’re discussing gum disease. The symptoms are somewhat difficult to spot, but the real problem with gum disease is that even as it ravages your gums and teeth, in the early stage (gingivitis) you aren’t likely to feel any discomfort at all.
Gum disease comes in two stages: gingivitis and periodontitis. The progress of gingivitis can be halted and reversed relatively easily, with a deep cleaning by your dentist and a no-compromise approach to oral care on your part. However, many people often miss the symptoms, or simply don’t know what they are, and the disease will move on to periodontitis. Periodontitis is much more serious than gingivitis, and requires much more involved procedures to treat (before your oral health can even begin to normalize). If periodontitis goes untreated for too long, tooth loss is the outcome.
What Are The Symptoms of Gum Disease?
You can watch for the symptoms of gingivitis if you know what you’re looking for. The trick of course is observing them, remembering that they do in fact indicate a potentially very serious problem, and acting quickly to reverse it.
Look for Pink
If you have gingivitis, you might notice the following symptoms:
Have you noticed blood around your teeth frequently when you brush, especially near the gum line? You may also notice a pink or red hue in the bristles of your toothbrush, or in your sink when your rinse. Gums that bleed easily are the most obvious sign of a problem.
Bleeding gums is the clearest sign that you have gingivitis, but you might also notice that your gums appear to look swollen or puffy, and when you brush you might even experience some tenderness in your gums. However, you won’t experience continuous discomfort like you might expect, and this leads many to ignore their gingivitis symptoms (at their peril).
What Happens if I Miss the Symptoms of Gingivitis?
If for whatever reason fail to identify the symptoms of gingivitis, or as is often the case, fail to seek a proper diagnosis and treatment from your dentist, eventually the gingivitis will turn into periodontitis.
Gum disease does most of its damage below the gum line, where it destroys your gums, other oral tissues, and even the bone in your jaw: all of which are responsible for keeping your teeth firmly in place. However, one thing that many people are able to notice is that their teeth somehow appear to be getting longer or taller.
This is a trick of perspective. Your teeth aren’t getting taller, your gums are, in a sense, getting shorter. Gum disease is essentially a one-two punch: bacterial infection (which causes decay through the acids the bacteria produce) and chronic inflammation (your immune system has essentially gone haywire, and is destroying your own tissues as it tries to control a bacterial infection that it can’t entirely rein in).
Your gums appear longer because the bacteria, which you see as plaque on the surface of your teeth, are so numerous that your gums actually begin to lift and pull away from the surface of your teeth. Like pulling a sheet off of a bed, the gums recede, leaving what are called pockets, spaces between the gums and the teeth. The bacteria spread into these pockets readily, and they continue to produce acid and reproduce. The gums continue to pull back, until finally the bacteria go below the gum line. At this point, it’s only a matter of time before your teeth will begin to feel loose.
Don’t Let Gum Disease Get the Best of You!
You can control gum disease with good oral hygiene habits: this means brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash twice a day, and it also means making and keeping regular appointments with your dentist for necessary cleaning and exams.
The best way to develop gum disease is to put off the proper care of your teeth! Dial 832-548-9805, or click here to book your appointment online, right now!