Don’t let gum disease affect your smile.
Left untreated, bacteria in your mouth can infect the tissues surrounding your teeth. This can cause inflammation and pain around your gums. In its early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis. As it progresses into a more serious form, it is called periodontitis, or advanced periodontal disease.
If you’ve suffered from this disease, then you know how uncomfortable and debilitating it can be. Thankfully, there are treatments, like dental implants, that can help restore your bone structure and improve your quality of life. Yet, can you qualify for implants after your periodontitis progresses to this state? Today, we’re sharing all of the answers you need to know.
What is advanced periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is the most advanced form of gum disease. It occurs when gum disease has been allowed to progress until it starts attacking the tooth roots and jaw bone, and it can have serious implications for your oral health.
In the early stages of gingivitis, you might notice that your gums appear red and inflamed. They may also bleed when you brush or floss your teeth, and feel extra sensitive. This is because the bacteria on your teeth have formed a film called plaque, which has hardened into tartar and spread below your gum line.
If you visit your dentist at the very first warning signs of gingivitis, they can remove the plaque that’s behind the irritation. However, because these symptoms aren’t severe, many patients ignore them or fail to notice them at all. This is when advanced periodontal disease can occur.
As your gums become more inflamed, they will begin to pull away from your teeth, creating pockets of space around them. This is known as early periodontitis. Food, debris, and bacteria can collect in the pockets, worsening your infection.
When this happens, the toxins can seep into the surrounding bone. At the same time, your body triggers an immune system response to the infection, which also softens and damages the bone.
As the disease progresses into moderate and then advanced stages, additional bone loss can occur. Most patients will also experience significant tooth loss, mostly due to the abscesses that form as a result of the infection.
Tooth Replacement Options
If you’ve lost one or more teeth due to periodontal disease, there are dental treatments that can help. Three of the most common procedures are dentures, implants, and implant-supported dentures.
Let’s take a look at each one in greater detail.
Dentures are removable teeth replacements for patients who are missing teeth and some surrounding tissue. Your dentist will custom-make them to fit securely in your mouth. Today, dentures are made from long-lasting materials that replicate the look and feel of natural teeth.
There are two main types of dentures: complete and partial. Complete dentures are designed to fit over your entire upper jaw or lower jaw. Partial dentures only replace a single missing tooth or a few teeth.
Dental implants serve as permanent substitutes for missing tooth roots. Unlike dentures, these are not removable. The implant itself is a small post, usually made out of titanium, which your dentist surgically implants into your jaw bone.
Once it’s in place, your jawbone will begin to grow around the implant, and it will become integrated into your natural gum line. This process takes between three and nine months. Once the implant site has healed, your dentist will place an abutment on top of it.
The abutment connects the implant to a dental crown. After your gums heal, your dentist will add a permanent crown on top of the abutment.
Dental implants are secure and can help promote bone retention. They’re also built to last a lifetime and do not require support from adjacent healthy teeth. For this reason, dentists often recommend this treatment for patients who have experienced tooth loss related to gum disease.
Looking for an alternative to removable dentures? Traditional dentures can help restore your smile, but they do have their drawbacks. Not only do they require the use of dental adhesives to stay in place, but they can also become loose and slide around in your mouth, leading to issues such as gum sores, and speech and chewing difficulties.
To help you avoid these problems, your dentist might recommend implant-supported dentures.
This is a special type of denture designed to replace several teeth at once. Not only are implant-supported dentures more comfortable, but they distribute your biting pressure more evenly than traditional dentures. This stimulates the supportive structures in your teeth, helping to fortify the bone and soft tissues in your mouth.
While most dentures require at least two dental implants for support, your dentist may recommend 4 to 6 implants, especially if you’ve suffered significant tooth loss in one or both jaws. This solution creates a permanent dental prosthesis using stabilizing implants.
One benefit of this treatment is that it doesn’t usually require bone grafting. This makes it ideal for patients who have low bone volume or density in their jaw as a result of advanced periodontal disease.
Criteria for Implant-Supported Dentures
Of the three treatments described above, implant-supported dentures are best suited for patients who have experienced tooth and bone loss due to periodontitis. Yet, that doesn’t mean that every patient will qualify for this procedure.
Your dentist will be able to perform a thorough evaluation to understand and diagnose your condition. Then they can tell you whether or not implant-supported dentures will be a viable treatment option.
During the evaluation, they will analyze whether you have enough healthy jawbone tissue to successfully support the procedure.
You need a certain amount of healthy bone to ensure that your implant-supported dentures remain securely in place. The implant needs to be able to be inserted into your jaw without taking up too much room at the bottom of the bone. This is where other vital structures exist, including nerves in your bottom jaw and sinuses in your top jaw.
Most dentists require at least 1mm of bone to be present around an implant. If the implant is located next to a tooth or another implant, then that number increases to around 2mm. Your dentist may recommend a bone graft to increase the bone density in your jaw to be able to support an implant.
Restoring Your Smile After Bone Loss
No matter which treatment you decide to pursue for tooth loss, it’s critical to stay on top of any signs of gum disease. If you can catch this condition before it snowballs into a bigger problem, then you may not require dental implants or dentures at all!
If you’re in the throes of advanced periodontal disease, it’s helpful to know if you qualify for these treatments. Your dentist can evaluate your dental health, match your symptoms to a diagnosis, and help you establish a clear route forward.