7 signs that you are at risk of losing your teeth and what to do to avoid it

Periodontitis (previously known as periodontosis) is a cunning disease of the teeth. In the early stages, when periodontitis is easiest to control, people usually do not feel pain and do not even suspect they have problems. Statistics show that even 3 out of 4 adults with periodontitis do not know they have the disease. Nevertheless, up to 10% of the population suffer from severe periodontitis and risk losing all their teeth by the age of 40-50. During periodontitis, the bone holding the tooth dissolves, the gums recede, and over time the teeth start to loosen and fall out. The disease cannot be completely cured, the goal of treatment is to slow down the progression of the disease - bone loss. It is easier, of course, to stabilize when the disease is in the early stages. Then it may be enough to improve home dental care and regularly visit a professional for oral hygiene. Meanwhile, when the disease is advanced, some teeth can no longer be saved and have to be removed, sometimes requiring several courses of non-surgical treatment, or even gum surgery. Of course, the more advanced the disease, the more expensive its treatment-stabilization is.

"I feel a duty to educate the public about the importance of gum health," says dentist Aistė. Over the past few years, while treating compatriots with periodontitis in London, the dentist has seen various situations. "A big problem is that people do not go to dentists in time, they underestimate gum diseases, maybe because they do not know enough about them. I have seen tears in patients' eyes more than once when they hear the number of teeth that can no longer be saved and that will have to be removed. It is unpleasant to give bad news, but it is very important to me that patients' expectations are realistic." So today we ask the doctor: what to pay attention to, what signs indicate that a person may have periodontitis?

  • If your gums are bleeding, sensitive, swollen, or red. You feel an unpleasant taste/smell in your mouth. Bleeding can occur when brushing teeth, eating hard food, some patients complain of finding blood on the pillow in the morning, or feeling a taste of blood in their mouth. Healthy gums do not bleed! After a professional oral hygiene visit, bleeding may decrease, but it returns after a few months. This is one of the easiest warning signs of the disease.

  • You smoke. Smokers may develop periodontitis at a younger age, the disease progresses faster, and it is harder to stabilize. The more years and the more cigarettes you smoke per day - the worse. Studies have shown a direct influence of nicotine on the development of periodontitis, so even e-cigarettes with nicotine harm gums similar to regular cigarettes. 

  • Diabetes and periodontitis have a direct link according to scientific research. If you have diabetes, there is a much higher likelihood of developing periodontitis. Studies have shown that untreated periodontitis can worsen diabetes, while treating periodontitis can improve diabetes control. Therefore, treating gum disease should be part of diabetes treatment.

  • If your parents, grandparents, or siblings have periodontitis or have lost teeth early, there is a high chance that you will also develop it. There are many different factors that contribute to the development of periodontitis, and genetics is not the only factor. However, if someone in your family has this disease, there is a high likelihood that you will also develop it.

  • Failure to clean between teeth regularly and visiting a dental professional less frequently than once a year can promote the development of periodontitis. Increased amounts of bacteria in the mouth contribute to periodontitis. Bacteria thrive in the plaque that accumulates on teeth due to leftover food particles. Regularly removing this plaque from teeth (both by daily self-cleaning and by professional cleaning at a dental office) reduces the risk of periodontitis progressing. On the other hand, if this care is lacking, plaque bacteria promote gum inflammation, and periodontitis can progress much faster.

  • If you notice receding gums, exposed tooth roots, teeth that look visually "elongated," or enlarged gaps between teeth, you may have periodontitis. During periodontitis, the bone that holds the tooth dissolves, often causing the gums to recede along with the bone. This changes the appearance of the smile - teeth appear longer, and black, empty triangles form between them. Patients often notice that food gets stuck more frequently in larger gaps between teeth, indicating advanced periodontitis.

  • Your dentist or dental hygienist may have already told you that you may have periodontitis. Often people know they have problems with their gums because their dentist or hygienist has told them. However, diagnosis is often where it ends, and people do not seek further treatment.

This is a list of the main signs that you may have periodontitis. Are you concerned because you meet more than one point? Then we recommend that you schedule a consultation with a dentist for gum disease as soon as possible. You should know that a specific diagnosis can only be made after a thorough examination of the gums and evaluation of dental X-rays. Only then can a diagnosis be made, the prognosis for each tooth be evaluated, and an individual treatment plan be created.