Complications of Untreated Gum Disease

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that nearly half of Americans over age 30 have some form of periodontal disease. These numbers increase with age, affecting more than 70% of people over age 65. Although gum disease is a common issue affecting many, it’s completely preventable and treatable.

At his practice located in Statesville and Hickory, North Carolina, endodontics specialist Robert S. Nance, DDS, MS, PA understands the importance of routine oral care and offers guidance so gum disease never becomes a problem for you or your family.

What is gum disease?

Gum disease is an infection of the gum tissue, usually caused by bacteria that’s been left to live and grow inside your mouth. Gum disease begins with mild inflammation called gingivitis. When left untreated, gingivitis progresses to a severe bacterial infection called periodontitis.

Gum disease begins with poor oral health, such as a lack of regular brushing and flossing. Bacteria and debris get caught in the spaces between your teeth and under your gum line, which is how gum tissue becomes infected. Plaque, a sticky film covering your teeth, builds and eventually hardens and turns to tartar.

As plaque and tartar grow and move from your teeth into your gum tissue, you develop an infection. After tartar forms, at-home brushing and flossing alone can’t remove it. You need a dental specialist to clean your teeth and gums deeply and thoroughly to restore your oral health. 

Signs of gum disease

You may be heading toward gum disease and not even realize it. In fact, the early stages of gingivitis aren’t usually painful. Here are a few signs that you should call Dr. Nance for a checkup.

The sooner you see a dental professional about these symptoms, the better your chances of preventing long-term complications and pain.

Long-term complications of untreated gum disease

You can prevent gum disease in the first place by brushing and flossing twice a day and getting routine oral care from your dentist. If gum disease advances, you face a number of complications.

Bleeding gums

One of the initial symptoms of gum disease is bleeding gums. Your gums should look healthy and pink. If they’re bleeding when you brush or floss, you may have discovered the beginnings of gingivitis. Even if your gums only bleed occasionally, this sign indicates the onset of gum disease.

Receding gums

The main cause of receding gums is gum disease. Bacteria attack tender gums, causing inflammation and destruction of the tissue that supports and protects teeth.

Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue surrounding a tooth begins to pull back or wear away, exposing the tooth root. You may notice that your teeth appear longer. 

Bad breath

There are several reasons you may experience bad breath, such as after eating onions or due to a dry mouth. Foul breath is also one of the first signs of gingivitis.

The bacteria associated with gum disease give off bad odors while they break down food particles in your mouth. If the bacteria aren’t rinsed or brushed away, they remain in your mouth, causing bad breath. The longer the bacteria are in your mouth, the more likely gum disease can harm your oral health.

Tooth loss

Early diagnosis and treatment of gum disease is essential to prevent tooth loss. In the final, most serious stage of gum disease, you could lose your teeth. Periodontitis eventually attacks your entire tooth support system, including soft tissue and bone.

Eventually, the damaged tissue can no longer support your teeth, making them loose. When a tooth no longer has a stable anchor, tooth loss occurs.

It’s important to make preventive oral care a priority so you can maintain good dental health and avoid serious complications. Contact Dr. Nance today to learn more about how you can prevent and treat gum disease.

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