Spit with blood in a sink drain
Spit with blood in a sink drain

Symptoms of Gum Disease

What causes tooth loss?

As a child, losing a tooth feels like a rite of passage on the journey to adulthood. But as a grown-up, it’s a distressing and irreversible experience with long-lasting consequences for the look and feel of your mouth and even your self-confidence.

There are a number of reasons why you might suffer from tooth loss as an adult. You can lose teeth in an accident or as a result of medical conditions, but one of the leading causes of lost teeth is serious, irreversible gum disease periodontitis.

Illustration of a loose tooth

Why gum disease may lead to tooth loss

Healthy gums are vital to the health of your teeth.

Your jaw bone keeps each tooth secure in its socket. This is why it’s important that this bone doesn’t become exposed to bacteria as infection may set in causing damage and, potentially, tooth loss. Your gums provide a protective barrier between the bone and the plaque bacteria in your mouth.

The journey of gum disease begins with a build up of plaque bacteria, which can irritate the gums. This can make them red and swollen and they may also bleed when you brush and floss. These are the signs of the first stage of gum disease, gingivitis. If this is left untreated it can develop into the irreversible second stage, periodontitis and eventually tooth loss.

This is because the build-up of plaque bacteria can cause gums to pull back from the teeth, leaving tiny spaces where more plaque can collect and infections occur. Left untreated, these infections may impact the bone and tissues in your gums that provide the support structure for your teeth. If the bones and tissues in your gums are damaged, teeth may become loose.

The key to preventing periodontal tooth loss is to never let things get that far.

Regular check ups with your dentist are vital as, unlike tooth ache or sensitivity, gum disease is not always painful. In fact, to begin with, you may not even notice you have it at all, but a professional examination can pick up early signs so you can take steps to treat gum disease before it gets worse.

This is especially important if you smoke, as smoking can mask the symptoms of gum disease.