Gum Disease and Tooth Loss


Gum disease is one of the most common oral health issues. While easily avoidable, it is estimated that nearly all American adults will, at some point, experience one form of the disease, most often gingivitis. Fortunately, the symptoms of gingivitis are easy to spot – red and swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed – and nearly as easy to treat. In fact, many cases of gingivitis can be eliminated through a deep professional cleaning and better attention paid at home to brushing and flossing.

When gingivitis is not taken care of, it can progress to periodontitis. This advanced form of gum disease is linked to a number of oral health and beauty issues and often results in tooth loss. When this happens, jaw necrosis (bone death) may follow, along with a collapse of the jaw in the area of the missing teeth.

Treating Tooth Loss

Dr. John R. Phelps is a prosthodontist, a dental specialty concerned with tooth replacement. Offering a range of options at our Indianapolis office, Dr. Phelps has found that dental implants offer the most reliable solution for the replacement of missing teeth. However, if your tooth loss is related to gum disease, you may not be a good implant candidate.

Gum disease can cause damage to the structures, including bone, that support the teeth. Because a dental implant requires bone for support, those who have lost teeth due to gum disease may not have adequate structures in place. For these patients, bone grafting may be necessary before an implant is placed, but that cannot occur before the disease itself has been addressed.

More than dental implants, no tooth replacement option will be useful if gum disease is not treated in addition. During your initial consultation, Dr. Phelps can discuss this with you in greater detail to help you understand what will be required for the perfection of your smile.

A Problem for Men

Men are nearly twice as likely as women to develop gum disease. Coincidentally, a 2011 study conducted by the CDC found that women are almost twice as likely to visit the dentist for routine checkups. Indeed, the National Institutes of Health has found that women have better oral hygiene routines than men in general, resulting in fewer instances of periodontal disease.

June is Men’s Health Month and a good time to remember that visiting the dentist twice a year is essential for optimal health. In men, gum disease is linked to erectile dysfunction in addition to being a known risk factor for:

  1. Cardiac arrest
  2. Hypertension
  3. Pancreatic cancer
  4. Alzheimer’s

Gum disease is known to increase risks for kidney and liver failure as well.

As a man, you can help reduce risks for these serious issues and nearly eliminate your risk for gum disease by taking more time to care for your teeth and gums. This includes:

  1. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth after every meal
  2. Flossing both morning and night
  3. Visiting our office every six months for cleanings and examinations

Your oral health and systemic health are intricately linked. Take time this June to consider that connection and take steps that work towards protecting both.

To schedule your next examination with Dr. Phelps, please call 317-793-6133 today. Located in Indianapolis, Dr. Phelps serves all surrounding communities.

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