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Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. Losing the teeth was at one time considered inevitable and a part of the aging process but we know now that is not true. Here is how tooth loss due to gum disease can be prevented.

Gum disease or periodontal disease is the most common reason for tooth loss in adults [1]. The widespread nature of gum disease around the world is considered to be the main reason why people carry around the misconception that old age is associated with teeth falling out. Prevention of tooth loss to gum disease is not a very difficult thing to achieve if good care is taken from an early age. Scaling, done for bleeding gums treatment, is essentially all that is required at an early stage. Things start to get a lot more complex in patients that where the gum disease has already progressed to a significant amount.

Why does gum disease cause tooth loss?

Gum disease starts with inflammation of the gums and then spreads to the supporting structures of the teeth. The bone which surrounds the teeth and keeps them firm is also affected by advanced gum disease. As the bone starts to get destroyed, the tooth starts becoming weaker, eventually becoming progressively mobile and ‘falling out’ [2].

Perhaps one of the chief reasons that patients do not realize something is wrong or don’t immediately seek out treatment because this process is painless [3]. Like the complications that occur in the body with other chronic diseases such as diabetes or hypertension, complications of gum disease also continue without any apparent symptoms.

How can tooth loss from gum disease be prevented?

Tooth loss from gum disease can be prevented automatically by taking steps to prevent gum disease in the first place. If you are someone who has never suffered from anything worse than gingivitis then maintaining your gum health is pretty straightforward.

Make sure you brush twice a day and go to the dentist for a scaling twice a year [4]. By doing this, people can ensure they do not have to suffer the consequences of gum diseases at all even in old age.

If, however, you are someone that has been diagnosed with moderate gum disease then the situation is a little bit different. The first step should be to get treatment for the existing gum disease. This could include, depending upon the exact clinical picture, scaling, gum surgeries, and extractions.

The maintenance period of after getting gum surgery done is critical since any lapse at this time can lead to a re-colonization of the gums with disease-causing bacteria and a relapse of periodontal disease. Your dentist may ask to see you after every three months for the first year and then every six months once the dentition seems to have settled a little [5].

For people with advanced gum disease, the situation is most challenging. It is likely that such people would have lost a couple of their teeth already or would be on the verge of losing them. The remaining teeth would also have been compromised due to a destruction of the bone around them [6].

A careful evaluation of the teeth has to be done starting with the extraction of the teeth which have a hopeless prognosis. There is a good chance that even with gum surgery and regular maintenance, a couple of teeth may have to be extracted down the line [7].

For such patients, getting their missing teeth replaced is also very important. The idea is to minimize the amount of forces being transmitted on the remaining teeth to help increase the chances of their survival.

Oral hygiene tips to prevent tooth loss

A lot of these oral hygiene tips may seem obvious but they end up being ignored by the vast majority of the population. Brushing twice a day is very important but equally as important is to brush in the right manner. Avoid scrubbing the teeth and instead, use a gentle circular motion with a soft toothbrush [8].

If there are any areas where food is getting stuck in the gums or teeth then that should be looked into. Any such area will act as a reservoir of disease-causing bacteria and lead to the development of gum disease in the area.

Bleeding from the gum is one of the first signs of gum disease. It is not a sign of advanced gum disease as many people think but is an excellent indicator of inflammation being present in the area [9]. If there is any bleeding from the gums while brushing, chewing food, or at any other time then a visit to the dentist for a scaling is essential.

For people that have spaces between their teeth or have difficulty in cleaning their teeth adequately, the use of an antibacterial mouthwash is a helpful aid. Your dentists will be able to help you choose a good mouthwash which actively fights the disease-causing bacteria in the mouth [10].

Lastly, flossing is something that has been recommended by dentists for years. It is not something that everyone is able to do and is tie consuming for those that can. Cleaning out the sides of the teeth is very important but the latest science suggests that brushing and the use of an antibacterial mouthwash may be able to achieve the same results as flossing can.

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