A recent statistic suggests that periodontal affects more than 47% of adults over age 30 in the U.S. alone. That’s a large proportion of people. It’s no wonder that some people who are afflicted by the disease will throw in the towel and elect to wear dentures perhaps long before it’s time, giving up many years of maintaining their teeth by foregoing treatment.
But will tooth extraction fix gum disease? Let’s discuss what we know about periodontal disease in greater detail and whether tooth extractions are a good idea.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease (a.k.a. gum disease) is a destructive process that affects the gums and bone that support the teeth. Often, periodontal disease begins as gingivitis, which is caused by the buildup of dental plaque at the gumline or on tooth surfaces. A common symptom of gingivitis is gums that bleed with brushing or flossing.
Left untreated, plaque, tartar, and bacterial film begin to produce pathogens that invade and break down the bone and other structures that support your natural teeth. The result is red, inflamed, receding gums; root surfaces that begin to show; and loose teeth. While gingivitis is usually reversible, periodontal disease is not.
However, it can be arrested and controlled from advancing further with timely intervention by a dental professional. Because periodontal disease rarely causes pain, many patients ignore the signs and don’t seek treatment until the disease has progressed to the point of no return.
Will Tooth Extraction Cure Periodontal Disease?
While tooth extraction may be the only treatment option at a certain point, tooth removal doesn’t necessarily cure periodontal disease. There is debate in the dental literature about whether tooth extraction cures periodontal disease. A 2009 article in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology suggests “full-mouth tooth extraction does not result in eradication of all periodontal pathogens but only in a significant reduction.”
In other words, it is still possible for the bacteria that causes periodontal disease to continue to be present and dissolve away additional jawbone after the teeth have been removed. This is not good news for patients who must rely on the jawbone to support traditional dentures. Nonetheless, once periodontal disease has crossed a certain threshold, patients are generally better off once their teeth are removed. Then, they can replace missing teeth with complete dentures.
Why would anyone care to treat periodontal disease when pulling the teeth is so much simpler? The primary reason is that wearing dentures is not a panacea. There are so many things that you can’t do with dentures that you can with natural teeth. By postponing or avoiding dentures altogether, your quality of life is often better.
The Stages of Periodontal Disease
There are four stages of gum disease. They encompass a spectrum that includes:2Gingivitis
Gingivitis is an early-stage form of gum disease. It’s less severe than periodontitis. The primary signs of gingivitis are red, swollen gums that bleed easily. The difference between gingivitis and periodontal disease is gingivitis happens without bone destruction. With regular professional dental care and improved daily home care, gum health can be reversed.
1. Mild Periodontitis
Mild periodontitis occurs as a continuation of gingivitis when gum tissue begins to pull away from the teeth, and some of the bone that supports the upper portion of the roots is lost. Bone loss causes the development of periodontal pockets that allow plaque, tartar, and bacteria to become trapped beneath the gumline where a toothbrush or floss can’t reach.
2. Moderate Periodontitis
Moderate periodontitis occurs as periodontitis worsens. In this stage, additional bone loss around the teeth occurs. Bacteria further erodes the tissue and ligaments that support your teeth. Gum tissue may become sore and tender. Once bone loss occurs, it cannot be reversed.
3. Severe Periodontitis
Advanced periodontal disease happens as the disease process is allowed to progress without treatment. Additional bone loss allows teeth to become loose or fall out completely. In addition to bleeding gums, there are signs of infection, such as pus pockets, along the gumline.
The presence of chronic infection not only leads to bad breath but can have negative implications on your overall general health, especially if you have other underlying issues such as diabetes or heart problems.
Periodontal Disease Treatments
Although bone and tissue attachment loss is not reversible, many people with active gum disease are able to maintain their oral health for many years through a combination of therapies. Gum disease treatment incorporates antibiotics, scaling and root planing, and periodontal surgery. Let’s discuss the role of each in a comprehensive gum disease treatment plan.
Antibiotic therapy, using metronidazole, minocycline, and doxycycline, is proven to work well by reducing the bacterial count and infection that causes periodontal disease. Reduction of harmful bacteria allows your body’s natural defense mechanisms to take over and restore equilibrium, slowing the disease progression. Oral antibiotics are usually reserved to treat acute flare-ups of periodontal infections.
Antibiotics used in combination with scaling and root planing can improve the outcome of treatment and arrest periodontal disease from further advancement. Because oral antibiotics have systemic side effects on the entire body, many of the antibiotics used to treat periodontitis are employed locally in the form of an ointment, gel, or via a strip applied topically after scaling and root planing treatment.
Scaling and Root Planing
Scaling and root planing is a procedure that removes plaque and tartar buildup from above the gumline (scaling) as well as below the gumline (root planing). You may ask how is it possible for plaque and debris to get under the gumline? With periodontal disease, the gum tissue is no longer firmly attached to the tooth, allowing plaque and tartar to build up in areas that aren’t able to be reached with a toothbrush or floss. Root planing removes this plaque and tartar, giving the gum tissue a chance to heal and minimizing the surface area for disease-causing plaque to accumulate.
The idea is to eliminate the source of the infection that causes periodontal disease to become worse, which allows you to keep your natural teeth healthy longer. Root planing also reduces irritation to the gum tissue by removing tartar which has the effect of reducing swelling and minimizing bleeding of the gum tissue.
Periodontal surgery is a treatment technique used to debride areas afflicted by periodontal disease and make the mouth more cleansable to the patient. The process often involves the surgeon loosening the tissue from the teeth and bone to allow access for a thorough professional cleaning.
In many cases, the gum tissue is reattached at a lower level on the teeth so that plaque and tartar can no longer form in pockets under the gums, allowing you to keep your teeth free of plaque and disease at home.
Full Dentures With European Denture Center
So, will extraction cure gum disease? Well, if you have lost more than 50% of the bone height that supports your teeth or your teeth are showing signs of looseness, it is time to face facts. You are fighting a losing battle with advanced gum disease; tooth loss is in your future. Why not make the transition a planned process rather than emergency treatment?
The caring dental professionals at European Denture Center understand your dilemma and want you to know there are solutions like dental implants that will allow you to get on with your life and thrive with dentures. Schedule your consultation appointment today to find out the best course of treatment and the most advanced comfort denture options to address your periodontal concerns!