The leading cause of tooth loss in American adults is periodontal disease. If you simply think of red, puffy gums when you think of gum disease, it may be difficult for you to understand how this condition also could cause your permanent teeth to fall out. However, knowing how gum disease progresses, if it is not treated, can help you understand the devastating chain of events. It will also help you take this oral health condition more seriously.

The Progression of Periodontal Disease

Gum disease occurs in stages. Just like any serious disease, the earlier the stage, the lesser the symptoms and more treatable the condition. In most cases, gum disease begins with the presence of excess bacteria, plaque and food debris that aren’t removed with regular brushing and flossing. When plaque builds up along the gum line, it irritates and inflames these soft tissues. At this early stage of gingivitis, you may experience bleeding and notice that your gums look more red and puffy than usual.

When gingivitis is left untreated, it can advance to periodontitis. This is when your gum disease becomes more serious. In periodontitis, the infection can cause the inner layer of the gums to pull away from the tooth roots and form deep pockets. These created spaces between teeth and gums only harbor more debris and bacteria, which fosters an infection within the gums. While your body’s immune system will kick into gear to fight the infection, the plaque will still spread and grow below the gum line.

When Gum Disease Threatens Tooth Stability

In those with advanced or untreated gum disease, there is an excess of bacteria below the gum line. This bacteria produces toxins, which often combine with your body’s infection-fighting enzymes to cause a breakdown of bone and connective tissue below your gums. Since these are the structures that hold your teeth in place, it is common to suffer from loose teeth if you have advanced periodontitis. Unfortunately, the destruction of bone and tissues caused by gum disease can be irreversible, so tooth loss is likely to occur if your disease progresses to this final stage.

Are You At Risk?

Most cases of gum disease begins with poor oral hygiene or not properly removing plaque and bacteria from your teeth and gums on a daily basis. However, there are other factors that can make you more susceptible to periodontal disease. Your dentist may consider the following factors when assessing your personal risk for gum disease:

  • Hormonal Changes
  • Illness
  • Certain Medications
  • Family History
  • Smoking
  • Brushing and Flossing Habits

At Riverwood Dental, we realize the devastating impact of gum disease. Not only can untreated gum disease cause tooth loss, but it can affect the health of your entire body. Call today to schedule an appointment if you notice signs of early gum disease!