Maintaining or Renewing a Healthy Smile
The Primary Cause of Lost Teeth
Many people assume that tooth loss is due to decay. It’s not. It’s because of periodontal (gum) disease. And it can be completely unnoticeable right up until you lose your teeth. Symptoms include bleeding gums when you brush or floss and loose or shifting teeth. If you’ve been told you need gum surgery, you will be glad to know that it’s possible to control gum disease with a variety of non-surgical methods.
Gum Disease Can Contribute to Heart Disease and Even Stroke
Medical research has caused many doctors to reach a startling conclusion: gum disease, stroke, and heart disease are linked. Since heart disease is usually fatal, it is clear that gum disease is a serious matter. The American Dental Association estimates that 8 out of 10 Americans have periodontal (gum) disease. If this were any other affliction, such as AIDS or tuberculosis, it would be considered an epidemic! Most dentists think it is just that. They also knew that gum disease would never be labeled epidemic because “no one ever dies from it.” The worst is that you lose your teeth. Not pleasant – but certainly not life threatening. But that’s all changed.
The American Academy of Periodontology reports: “Studies found periodontal infection may contribute to the development of heart disease, increase the risk of premature, underweight births, and pose a serious threat to people whose health is already compromised due to diabetes and respiratory diseases.” Periodontal disease is characterized by bacterial infection of the gums. These bacteria can travel into the bloodstream – straight to the heart.
Now the Good News
With advanced periodontal disease, the treatment is surgical. Gum surgery is never fun, but it is almost always successful in controlling the condition, and it’s usually covered by common insurance plans. With mild periodontal disease, there are very effective NON-surgical procedures that, coupled with improved dental hygiene, can virtually halt the spread of the disease. This, too, is usually covered under most dental insurance plans.
What’s So Bad About Losing a Tooth?
Losing even a single tooth can cause the other teeth to shift and move around – not good. This can affect chewing and your ability to absorb nutrients from your food. Other bad things can happen; your face will change shape, often looking “sunken.” This can make you look much older than you really are. Your speech can be affected. Because it’s harder to chew with missing teeth, you may find yourself favoring softer foods and more carbohydrates, which can cause you to gain weight. The best way to treat a missing tooth (or missing teeth) is with dental implants. An implant can replace one tooth or many. They can be made to look so natural that even a dentist has to look hard to tell the difference.