What do gum disease and dental implants have in common? Quite a lot! Here’s a snapshot:
- Gum disease can lead to tooth loss
- Dental implants are a procedure to replace lost teeth
- You need healthy gums to place an implant
- You can develop gum disease even after a dental implant
- Gum disease can cause a dental implant to fail
Let’s take a closer look.
What is gum disease?
Also called periodontitis or periodontal disease, gum disease is a serious (but unfortunately common) infection of the gums. It’s caused by bacteria-filled plaque sticking to and building up around the gumline.
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. It’s also associated with increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and coronary artery disease, and impacts other systemic conditions such as diabetes and even certain types of cancer.
Gum disease may manifest in a few different ways, including:
- Red, swollen, and tender gums that bleed easily
- Receding gum line
- Pus between your teeth
- Feeling like your teeth are loose
However, it is possible to have periodontal disease and have NO warning signs or symptoms.
That’s why it’s important to not only practice good dental hygiene habits, but make sure you’re visiting your dentist at least twice a year. The sooner you spot the disease, the better chance you can fight it quickly and stop negative outcomes like receding gums or worse — losing teeth.
Remember: It’s not normal for your gums to bleed! If your gums bleed every time you brush or floss, get in touch with us to schedule an appointment.
What are implants?
Missing teeth are hard on your health and cause big changes to your lifestyle. That’s where dental implants come in. Dental implants are considered the best method for replacing one or more missing or damaged teeth.
This procedure works by placing an implant in your mouth to act as the root of your tooth, later topping it off with a crown, bridge, or another type of natural-looking restoration. When all is said and done, no one will be able to recognize you were ever missing a tooth.
This procedure comes highly recommended thanks to the many benefits it offers, including:
- Preventing bone loss
- Adding stability and durability
- Allowing you to chew and speak more easily
- Looking completely natural
Will you lose your teeth if you have gum disease?
Like we mentioned earlier, periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. However, if you’ve been diagnosed with gum disease, don’t automatically assume you’ll lose a tooth.
When you address the issue (the sooner, the better), there are treatments available and habits you can adopt to reverse the infection and avoid tooth loss.
Tooth loss occurs as a result of severe damage to the soft tissue of your gums. This lack of healthy soft tissue allows bacteria to move deeper into your mouth and destroy the bone that supports your teeth.
Still, losing a tooth to periodontal disease is considered the worst case scenario. Do your best to avoid getting to this stage of an infection. And if you notice your teeth feel loose, contact us immediately and let’s take a look.
Does gum disease go away after a tooth is removed?
If tooth loss is inevitable, often the best step is to have it extracted. However, gum disease will not just up and disappear once a tooth is lost or removed. Left untreated, it will continue to grow and spread, potentially causing the loss of more teeth.
In fact, even if you lose a tooth from an accident or some other issue — and you didn’t have gum disease at the time — the missing tooth can increase your risk of developing the disease. When you’re missing a tooth, your gums and bone begin to weaken, recede, and even dissolve. This creates pockets where bacteria can grow and thrive.
If you’re missing a tooth, it’s important to discuss tooth replacement options. However, if you’re dealing with gum disease, you’ll need to treat one problem at a time.
How does Dr. Waring treat gum disease?
There are a variety of gum disease treatments available. The right treatment plan for you will depend on your specific situation and health. Here at our office, we offer some incredible treatment and prevention options, including:
- Perio Protect — At-home treatment for preventing and treating early stages of gum disease. This method involves using a custom-made tray, filling it with a special gel and leaving it in your mouth for about an hour. The treatment will fight bacterial infections and encourage your gums to heal. It even helps whiten your teeth!
- Deep Cleanings— A deep cleaning uses an ultrasonic cleaning device to remove plaque and tartar from your teeth, cleaning under the gumline on the tooth and the root. This procedure also involves smoothing out rough surfaces of the teeth and roots to help encourage your gums to reattach to your teeth.
In more severe cases of gum disease, we may refer a periodontist to find the best treatment.
Can you get an implant if you have gum disease?
The simple answer is no. You need healthy, strong gums to get a dental implant. Like we mentioned before, gum disease weakens and dissolves this tissue and bone. So even after you’ve treated the disease, your gum tissue and jawbone may not be strong enough to support an implant.
With an implant procedure, your jawbone must be thick and wide enough to safely support the implant. Your gum tissue must also fully surround the implant and final restoration.
If this is the case, you may be a candidate for a bone and/or soft tissue graft. These are both very common and successful procedures. Once completed and given time to heal, you’ll likely be a much better candidate for a dental implant. In fact, thanks to these and other procedures, there are relatively few people who cannot get implants.
What happens if I get gum disease after an implant?
Once you have an implant, your risk of developing gum disease does not disappear. Without proper care, you could develop peri-implantitis — another form of gum disease.
Peri-implantitis occurs when bacteria builds up and affects gum tissue and bone around a dental implant. Symptoms include:
- Bad breath
- Loosening implant
At its worst, peri-implantitis can cause your implant to fail and fall out completely.
Prevention is key.
- Adopt good brushing and flossing habits
- Visit your dentist regularly — twice a year at the minimum
- Talk to your dentist about a preventive treatment to stop bacteria before it can start
- Eat a healthy diet
- Stop smoking or vaping — this is a big risk factor for peri-implantitis!
If you do develop peri-implantitis, treatment options are available to stop the disease and stabilize and fix your implant.
What other questions about gum disease or implants do you have?
Dr. Waring and our team are changing the idea of what it means to receive high-quality, friendly, and gentle dental care in Reno. We take a preventive approach and want to help you avoid gum disease from the start.
Our office features the highest-quality technology and equipment to identify and prevent gum disease. If an implant is necessary, we can help guide you through that process as well.
Whatever type of dental treatment you need, we’ll ensure you feel completely relaxed and confident in your care plan and answer all of your questions.