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  • Writer's pictureDr. Llewelyn A. Paras

What Happens if Gum Disease Is Left Untreated?

Good oral health isn’t defined by any single thing. It includes brushing, flossing, and regular exams and cleanings. When problems arise, there are many services that your dentist may offer to deal with them.

In this article, we’re looking at gum disease. By the end of the article, you’ll know what it is, treatments your dentist may recommend, and what happens if it’s left untreated. There are also several tips for preventing the disease in the first place because prevention is always the best treatment.

Overview of Gum Disease

Before we discuss the problems with not treating gum disease, let’s look at what gum disease is.

Gum disease is also known as periodontitis. It’s an infection within the soft tissue of the gums. While it is a common oral disease, it’s easy to prevent through proper hygiene, such as brushing and flossing.

Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that begins coating and growing on the teeth when proper brushing isn’t happening. If left unchecked, this bacteria will begin infecting the soft tissue of the gums. In most cases, it will require corrective measures to stop it from spreading and doing permanent damage.

A woman pulling her her right lower rip to expose her gums.

Symptoms of Gum Disease

Ideally, you will get dental examinations and cleanings every six months as recommended by the Canadian Dental Association (or sooner if your dentist recommends it). If that’s not possible for any reason, there are some things to look out for that may indicate you have gum disease and should see the dentist as soon as possible.

Here are a few potential symptoms you may experience:

  • Chronic bad breath that won’t go away

  • Tender or inflamed gums

  • Bleeding gums

  • Pain while chewing

  • Teeth becoming loose

  • Receding gum line

  • Tooth Sensitivity

Preventing Gum Disease

Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste is one of the best things you can do to promote a healthy mouth and prevent gum disease. However, there are certainly some other things you can do to help prevent the disease:

  • Quit smoking (the rest of your body will thank you too)

  • Floss after every meal

  • Use a mouthwash every day (not to replace brushing and flossing)

  • Visit your dentist regularly for cleaning and examination

When to See Your Dentist

If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to see your dentist as soon as possible. The sooner periodontitis is diagnosed and treated, the greater the chances of preventing or reversing any damage.

What Happens if Gum Disease Is Left Untreated?

Like many other mouth-related diseases or conditions, gum disease won’t get better by itself. The treatment it requires depends on what stage it’s caught.

If left untreated, it can lead to several complications, including:

  • Tooth loss

  • The bacteria may enter your bloodstream through soft tissue, which can potentially cause problems in other parts of the body

  • Bone damage in your jaw

  • Destruction of the soft tissue in your mouth

Graphical cross section of a healthy tooth and gums compared to periodontitis.

Treating Gum Disease

The treatment your dentist recommends is determined by how far the disease has progressed when it’s diagnosed. Non-surgical treatments include:

Non-Surgical

If the disease is caught soon enough, treatment will not be as drastic to fix the issue:

  • Antibiotics: There are oral and topical antibiotic options. Your dentist can recommend which is best for you. A topical may be an antibacterial mouthwash or gel, and the oral would be a pill you take.

  • Scaling: Because the cause is primarily plaque and the bacteria that grows, one of the first things your dentist may recommend is scaling. This procedure is essentially a deep tooth cleaning with special instruments above and below the gum surface. It gets rid of all the bacteria and plaque from the teeth.

  • Root planing: The root surfaces of your teeth are smoothed, which discourages plaque and bacteria from growing.

Surgical

If the disease is more progressed, surgical treatment may be in your mouth’s best interest. Surgical treatments include:

  • Soft tissue graft: If the gum line is damaged and receding, you may require a graft to bring it back up to an acceptable height.

  • Tissue growth stimulation: A special gel is applied to the tooth’s root, encouraging new soft tissue to grow and replace damaged tissue.

  • Bone grafting: Eventually, the disease will damage the bone in your mouth if left untreated. Once this happens, your dentist may need to graft new bone to restore your mouth to proper health.

Find Out More About Gum Disease

Prevention of gum disease is the best thing you can do for your mouth. Remember to brush twice a day, floss after each meal, and get professional dental cleanings as recommended. This lowers your chances of dealing with this common yet preventable disease.

However, seeing your dentist as soon as possible is important if you notice any of the above symptoms developing—even if you’ve had a professional cleaning recently. If you need to see a dentist, give us a shout at Dental Haus. The professional staff is happy to book you an appointment with Dr. Shell or Dr. Paras.


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