There are many ways that adults can lose teeth, but gum disease is the most common cause. Severe gum disease, also called periodontitis, can damage important structures around your teeth, including the periodontal ligaments that help to hold your teeth in place and the alveolar bones which form your teeth's sockets. When these structures are damaged by periodontitis, your teeth may loosen and fall out, and then you'll need to replace them with restorations such as dental implants. Here are three things periodontitis sufferers need to know about dental implants.
Can people with periodontitis get dental implants?
While you may be anxious to fill the gap in your smile with a permanent restoration, people with gum disease are not good candidates for dental implants. You'll need to wait until your gum disease has been fully treated to be a good candidate for dental implants.
Periodontitis is a bacterial infection of your gums and the other tissues around your teeth, and if your dentist were to surgically implant a dental implant in this infected tissue, you could develop a complication known as peri-implantitis. Peri-implantitis is an infectious disease that develops around the post of a dental implant, and it leads to bone loss around the implant. This means that the bone can't heal around your implant, which can cause the implant to fail. To avoid this unpleasant complication, you'll need to undergo treatment for periodontitis before you can permanently replace your missing tooth.
How is periodontitis treated?
To treat your periodontitis, your dentist will need to carefully remove the bacteria-filled plaque and tartar from your teeth and below your gum line with scaling instruments. This cleaning procedure is known as scaling and root planing.
Once the plaque and tartar have been removed, you'll need to be very careful to ensure that more does not take its place. To do this, you will need to make sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day. This may seem like common sense, but many people do not follow this routine. In fact, 25% of adults don't brush their teeth twice a day, and 10% often forget to brush their teeth. Only about one-fifth of people floss their teeth regularly, while one-third have never done it.
Three or four weeks after your initial scaling and root planing appointment, your dentist will evaluate your gum tissue to see if you're healing properly. They may determine that you require additional scaling and root planing appointments to get your gum disease under control. If your gum disease is still severe after these cleanings, you may need to have surgery performed. Many surgical procedures are available, depending on the specific tissues that are under attack, and your dentist will let you know which procedures you require.
Will you need to have a gap in your smile until your gums heal?
If you're missing tooth is visible when you smile, your dentist may recommend concealing this gap with temporary restorations such as removable bridges.
A removable bridge consists of a gum-colored base that holds a replacement tooth, and metal extensions will be used to clip the bridge onto your teeth. A removable bridge is similar to a retainer, so it will be easy for you to remove it when it's time to clean your teeth or go to sleep. Once your dentist is satisfied that your periodontitis is cleared up, you'll be able to exchange your removable bridge for a permanent dental implant.
If you've lost a tooth due to periodontitis, see your dentist right away for treatment. Once your periodontitis has been treated, you may be able to replace your lost tooth with a dental implant.