The Silent Extractor: How Periodontitis Quietly and Painlessly Causes Teeth to Fall Out
Most people judge the health of their teeth based on one thing – pain. Instead of scheduling a routine dental checkup every six months, they don’t go to the dentist until something hurts, whether the problem is caused by a cavity or injury. We can take care of cavities and injury-related issues. More often than not, it’s a relatively simple fix. The bigger problem is gum disease.
Gum disease can destroy the foundation of your teeth, causing that foundation to wither away until your teeth fall out. The scary thing is, you don’t realize this is happening because it doesn’t hurt. Let’s explain the different types of gum disease and how they affect the health of your teeth.
Gingivitis vs. Periodontitis
Adults have far more gum disease-causing bacteria than cavity-causing bacteria. Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease around the base of your teeth, usually caused by bacterial buildup. The gums become infected and irritated, and they bleed.
If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a more advanced infection that may or may not involve gum bleeding. For example, smokers typically have little or no gum bleeding because smoking can cause vasoconstriction, a narrowing or constriction of the blood vessels. This limits blood flow. But there’s still a serious problem.
Periodontitis damages the gums and the bone that supports your teeth. When bacteria sticks to the surface of your teeth and plaque starts to develop, your body’s immune system sees the plaque as a foreign invader.
If plaque isn’t removed, it can harden and turn into tartar, or calculus. Tartar is tooth-like. It’s super hard. The only way to remove tartar from your teeth is with the ultrasonic instruments used by dentists.
The human body doesn’t like foreign invaders, so the bone that supports your teeth shrinks away from the plaque. That’s why you have bone loss. The bone doesn’t want to reform in that area because it’s trying to stay away from the bacteria.
The Silent Extractor
I call periodontitis the silent extractor because that’s exactly what it does. Over a long period of time, the bone that supports your teeth slowly shrinks and weakens. It’s not painful, so most people do nothing to stop the progression.
Think of the underlying bone as the foundation of a house. If something gradually causes that foundation to shrink, the house will eventually crumble. That’s what happens with periodontitis. The foundation becomes too weak to support the teeth, so they fall out.
The Good News
Plaque and tartar take a long time to develop. That’s why regular cleanings are the best defense against gum disease. If you come in for a routine appointment every six months, plaque and tartar won’t have time to accumulate on your teeth.
We understand that coming to the dentist doesn’t rank highly on your list of fun things to do. But think of it this way. Two visits to the dentist each year, or the risk of periodontitis and lost teeth. Easy choice, right?
If your six-month checkup isn’t on the calendar, contact us to schedule an appointment.
Our West Windsor Dental Location
330 Princeton Hightstown Road
West Windsor, NJ 08550