You may have wondered in the past, “why do people get dentures?” The number one reason a person ends up with dentures is because they didn’t get treatment for periodontal disease.

What is periodontal disease?

This disease occurs from a chronic infection and autoimmune response in the periodontium. The periodontium is the area around your tooth—the bone and gums that support the tooth and keep it strong and solid in your mouth.

Periodontal disease can cause bone loss from the periodontium. The end result of untreated and severe periodontal disease is your permanent teeth loosening and falling out. Many people around the world get dentures when their teeth are so loose that it becomes difficult to eat. When this occurs, they ask their dentist to remove their teeth and fit them for dentures.

What makes up the periodontium?

It may surprise you to learn that there are two kinds of bone in your jaws. There is basal bone, which is hard and everyone has. You will never lose this bone from periodontal disease. Basal bone, however, can be affected by osteoporosis and sometimes bone infections called osteonecrosis. Basal bone is similar in structure to the long bones of your body, such as your arm and leg bones.

The second type of bone that dentists are more concerned with is alveolar bone. This kind of bone is special. It makes up the bony component of the periodontium. While still hard, it’s softer than basal bone.

For example, when a dentist pulls your tooth our, they’re actually pushing the alveolar bone away from the tooth. It is very easy to push this bone on a young person. A person’s alveolar bone becomes harder and denser as they age. For this reason, the younger you are when you are diagnosed with periodontal disease, the faster this disease can cause alveolar bone loss.

What are periodontal disease symptoms?

Periodontal disease is a painless condition, and therefore it is something you may not even know is happening!

If you are experiencing symptoms, they’re likely subtle. You may have noticed:

  • Your teeth have appeared “longer” as you age
  • There is more root showing when you smile
  • Your gums aren’t covering as much of your tooth structure as they did before
  • A slightly loose tooth, or teeth, in your mouth
  • Gums that appear puffy
  • Sensitivity to cold, air, or sweetness

What are risk factors of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease affects more than just our teeth. Remember, your mouth is not separated from the rest of your body. An infection with an autoimmune component can translate to the rest of your body and overall health and wellness.

For example, there is a connection between heart disease and periodontal disease. There is also a risk to unborn babies in mothers who are affected by periodontal disease. This is because the bacteria that cause periodontal disease do travel through the blood stream. They tend to settle in heart and placental tissue.

If you know that you have heart disease, it is important to get your periodontal disease treated at the dentist. Also be diligent about brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. If you are pregnant, it is also important that you get your periodontal disease treated and that you brush your teeth twice daily and floss once daily.

What causes periodontal disease?

To have periodontal disease, you must first have a genetic susceptibility. You also have a higher likelihood if you have poor oral hygiene. If flossing is not a daily event, and tooth brushing is not occurring twice per day, you could be at a greater risk.

Plaque, which is a bacterial by-product and old food debris combined, can build up along your gum line. When the plaque sits over time, it become