How Long Can You Keep Your Teeth With Periodontal Disease


Periodontal disease, commonly known as gum disease, is a common condition that affects around almost half (47.5%) of all adults over the age of 30 in the UK. This prevalent condition affects the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. If left untreated, it can lead to serious consequences, including tooth loss.

For individuals diagnosed with periodontal disease, the question of how long they can keep their teeth becomes a significant concern. Understanding the progression of periodontal disease and its impact on oral health is crucial in determining the prognosis for affected teeth.

Periodontal disease is very treatable if caught early, so you should be able to keep your teeth, provided the condition hasn’t advanced too far. If you do lose your teeth due to periodontal disease, there are restoration options available to help you conceal gaps in your smile.

In this guide, we’ll explore the progression of the disease, risk factors that increase your risk of developing periodontal disease, and what you can do to reverse the effects if you are diagnosed with this condition.

What are the stages of periodontal disease

What are the stages of periodontal disease?

Periodontal disease typically progresses through various stages, each characterised by specific symptoms and levels of severity:

Stage 1 – Gingivitis

The earliest stage of gum disease, gingivitis, is marked by inflammation of the gums caused by plaque buildup along the gumline. Symptoms may include redness, swelling, and bleeding gums, but the underlying bone and connective tissues remain intact. Bleeding when you brush your teeth is often the first sign that individuals notice.

Stage 2 – Periodontitis

Without intervention, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a more advanced stage of gum disease. In periodontitis, the inflammation extends beyond the gums and begins to affect the supporting structures of the teeth, including the bone and periodontal ligaments.

As the disease progresses, pockets may form between the gums and teeth, leading to further plaque accumulation and eventual bone loss. Left untreated, the bone loss will cause the teeth to become loose and fall out.

What factors impact the progression of this condition

What factors impact the progression of this condition?

Several factors influence the likelihood of retaining teeth in individuals with periodontal disease:

Severity of disease

The extent and severity of periodontal disease play a significant role in determining tooth survival. In mild cases of gingivitis, prompt treatment and improved oral hygiene practices may reverse the condition and prevent further damage to the teeth and supporting tissues. However, in advanced cases of periodontitis with significant bone loss, the prognosis for affected teeth may be less favourable.

Response to treatment

Early detection and intervention can help manage periodontal disease and improve the chances of retaining teeth. Effective treatment strategies, such as scaling and root planing (deep cleaning), antibiotics, and surgical interventions, may halt the progression of the disease and stabilise the affected teeth.

Overall oral health

Overall oral health

The health of surrounding teeth and tissues, as well as individual oral hygiene habits, can impact tooth survival in individuals with periodontal disease. Maintaining good oral hygiene, including regular brushing, flossing, and professional dental cleanings, can help preserve the health of remaining teeth and prevent further deterioration. It’s never too late to start taking good care of your teeth, and you can reverse a lot of the damage done by simply improving your oral health routine.

Your wider health

Your wider health could also have an impact on your response to treatment. If you are prone to regular infections due to a compromised immune system, you might struggle to get on top of your periodontal disease. In this instance, we can work with other healthcare providers to address your oral health problems as part of the bigger picture.

Smoking and other risk factors

Smoking and certain systemic conditions, such as diabetes, can exacerbate periodontal disease and compromise tooth survival. Individuals who smoke or have underlying health conditions may experience more rapid progression of gum disease and an increased risk of tooth loss. Pregnant women are also at greater risk of gum disease, which is why it is vital that they attend check ups throughout their pregnancy and following the birth of their child.

What are the treatment options

What are the treatment options?

The prognosis for retaining teeth with periodontal disease varies depending on the individual's specific circumstances, including the stage and severity of the disease, overall oral health, and response to treatment.

Deep cleaning is often the first step in tackling gum disease. This involves using specialist tools to deep clean the teeth and get to difficult areas such as below the gum line. In the case of receding gums, surgery may be recommended to restore the gums and help to provide adequate support for the teeth.

In cases where periodontal disease has resulted in significant damage to the supporting structures of the teeth, tooth extraction may be necessary to preserve oral health and prevent further complications.

Thankfully, there are options available for replacing missing teeth. If multiple teeth are lost, a denture might be advisable to restore your smile. For single missing teeth, you may be able to have a bridge or dental implant to restore your smile.

With timely diagnosis, the right treatment, and ongoing management, many individuals with periodontal disease can retain their natural teeth for a lifetime. Dentists and periodontists work collaboratively to develop personalised treatment plans tailored to each patient's needs, with the goal of preserving teeth whenever possible and promoting long-term oral health.

Closing thoughts

While periodontal disease poses a risk to the health and stability of teeth, proactive management and adherence to recommended treatment protocols can significantly improve the prognosis for affected individuals.

By prioritising oral hygiene, seeking timely dental care, and addressing risk factors that contribute to gum disease, individuals with periodontal disease can increase their chances of retaining their natural teeth and enjoying a healthy smile for years to come.

Regular dental check-ups and professional cleanings are essential for monitoring the progression of periodontal disease and implementing appropriate interventions to maintain oral health and preserve teeth whenever possible.

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