What may seem like minor bleeding when brushing and flossing may actually lead to serious oral health problems. Bleeding gums is one of the first signs of gum disease, a dangerous oral health problem that can lead to tooth decay and tooth loss. Dr. Timothy S. Messer offers restorative dentistry treatments to stop the spread of gum disease, reverse dental damage, and restore oral health
. To explore your treatment options for gum disease and tooth loss, schedule a consultation at Dr. Messer's Memphis, TN practice.
Gum Disease and Tooth Loss
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is an infection of the gum tissue that can spread to the structures supporting the teeth. During the early stages of gum disease, called gingivitis, the gums may bleed when brushing and flossing and may appear inflamed and red.
As gum disease progresses to the more advanced stage, called periodontitis, the gums may pull away from the teeth, creating periodontal pockets. Once periodontal pockets form, the spread of gum disease can quickly progress and cause serious dental damage, including tooth loss.
Periodontal pockets are not the only potential cause of tooth loss due to gum disease. Other causes include:
- Tooth decay: Gum disease can increase the risk of tooth decay as plaque and tartar build up at and below the gum line. Periodontal pockets also allow plaque, tartar, and food debris to reach the tooth's roots, increasing the risk of tooth decay at the roots. If left untreated, tooth decay can dissolve the teeth, leading to tooth loss.
- Root canal infection: If left untreated, tooth decay resulting from gum disease may reach the root canal, where the tooth's roots and blood vessels are housed. If these tissues become infected, known as a root canal infection, the tooth may die and fall out on its own or may need to be extracted if it is too severely damaged to save.
- Gum recession: Gum disease can lead to the gums receding from the teeth, exposing the delicate structures beneath the gum line to decay. Gum recession can also cause the gums to become loose around the teeth, increasing the risk of tooth loss.
- Damage below the gum line: In severe cases, gum disease may spread below the gum line to the structures supporting the teeth, namely the jawbone. If gum disease infects the jawbone, the jawbone may dissolve and loosen its hold on the teeth, leading to tooth loss and other complications.
Treating Gum Disease and Tooth Loss
Fortunately, gum disease and tooth loss can be treated. For those who have suffered from tooth loss, dental bridges, dentures, and dental implants can be used to restore dental appearance and function. However, before replacing missing teeth, gum disease must be treated. There are a variety of treatments available to address gum disease and restore gum health. The treatment used will depend on the severity of gum disease and may include one or more of the following treatments:
- Antibiotics: Minor gum disease may be treated with antibiotics and proper brushing and flossing, but in most cases, antibiotics are used in combination with other treatments.
- Root planing and scaling: Moderate gum disease may be treated with root planing and scaling, a deep cleaning treatment used to remove plaque, tartar, and debris at and below the gum line. Root planing and scaling is also highly effective at closing periodontal pockets.
- Gum surgery: Gum surgery, including the flap procedure and gingivectomy, may be necessary when gum disease is severe.
Discover Your Treatment Options
To learn more about your treatment options for gum disease and tooth loss, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Messer.