Gum disease is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation in the gums and bone surrounding the teeth. The resulting inflammation causes bone loss and eventually, tooth loss, and it can contribute to other health problems. Once a patient has been diagnosed with gum disease (periodontal disease), prompt treatment is necessary to address the condition. Most…
What Can Happen With Untreated Gum Disease
Gum disease is simple to prevent and even to reverse in its early stages. But periodontal disease is a chronic condition that is hard to cure. The more you delay intervention against gum disease, the more intensive the subsequent treatment will be. These are compelling reasons to be proactive about preventing and treating periodontal disease.
Ignoring the problem has far-reaching, life-changing consequences. The following sections go into more detail.
How gum disease develops
Periodontal disease is progressive, starting as a minor bacterial infection of the gums. Infection occurs when harmful bacteria thrive in the mouth and proceed to attack the teeth and gums. These bacteria use plaque and tartar as their "base of operation" as they damage these structures.
Like any infection, gum disease will spread and progress, causing tissue damage, inflammation, and many other issues. These include the following.
1. Chronic bad breath
A tell-tale symptom of gum infection is bad breath that does not go away, no matter what a person does. It is usually accompanied by bleeding, tenderness, and swelling in the gums.
Bad breath is the result of bacterial action that breaks down protein to produce volatile sulfur compounds that smell bad. Worse still, some of the protein that the bacteria break down is gum tissue. This leads to the second effect of runaway gum infection.
2. Destruction of gum tissue
Bacterial action can eat away at gum tissue and damage the support structures that hold the teeth in place. Symptoms of the destruction include gums that bleed easily, gum recession, and a loss of firmness in the gums.
3. Loss of bone mass and bone density in the jaws
Infection of the gums does not limit itself to the soft tissue alone. It can spread to the connective tissues that hold the teeth in place and the jawbone. As the jawbone loses mass and density, the teeth start to lose their anchor in the jaw.
4. Loose teeth
Damage to the gums, connective tissue, and jawbone causes loose teeth with shaky support. Chewing and biting with loose teeth can be painful and reduce a person’s quality of life. This forces the person to change their diet to accommodate the new limitations of their teeth.
5. Tooth loss
Loose teeth that lack solid support below the gumline can fall out. This unwelcome development creates a gapped smile that may dent a person’s self-esteem. Missing teeth also change the person’s bite, making it harder for them to speak and eat.
6. Systemic health issues
It is in the nature of an infection to spread when it gets the chance, and gum disease is no different. Thriving mouth bacteria can find their way from the gums and into the bloodstream. This can cause inflammation in the rest of the body, opening the door to systemic health issues. Studies show correlations between gum disease and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and low birth weights for pregnant people.
Work with us to restore the health of your gums
Our team treats gum disease in all its different stages, with good long-term outcomes and many happy patients. Reach us through the contact information on our website to find out more.
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