Nearly half of all adults (46%) over the age of 30 show signs of gum disease, while severe gum disease affects a staggering 9% of adults. Keeping your dental health in good standing makes it easier to prevent other physical illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. Periodontal disease (gum disease) will result in tooth loss if left untreated for too long.
Gum disease will ultimately result in tooth loss if you don’t care for the problem. In mild cases, adults may only have inflamed gums. But in more severe cases, periodontal disease can damage your gum tissue and the bone that supports your teeth, causing them to fall out or have to be pulled.
So let’s cut to the facts:
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is caused by a bacteria infection that begins in the gums and eventually harms your underlying tooth and supporting jaw bone. When inflammation and bleeding in your gums cause your teeth to separate over time, pockets develop in the gums. These spaces allow bacteria in, which destroys the gum tissue and bone. This eventually leads to tooth decay and then tooth loss. It may only affect certain teeth or your entire mouth.
How long will your teeth last if you have gum disease?
First, it’s important to understand the four different stages of periodontitis and your risk for tooth loss at each stage.
Stage 1: Gingivitis
Gingivitis is considered an early stage of gum disease, although not all people who experience a case of gingivitis will get periodontitis. This stage is especially important to tend to because it can be easy to ignore and will progress quickly.
Gingivitis will become gum disease on average if not treated within a few weeks to months. This stage is reversible, meaning you and your dentist or periodontist can target and kill the bacteria causing the inflammation.
Symptoms of Gingivitis include:
- Red gums
- Swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Plaque buildup
How Long Do You Keep Your Teeth with Gingivitis?
Answer: You are not at risk of losing your teeth if you have gingivitis. However, if not tended to, gingivitis could quickly progress to periodontal disease, leading to permanent damage.
Stage 2: Early Periodontitis
Early Periodontal disease, or Periodontitis, will begin after a case of untreated gingivitis in a few weeks. Plaque buildup around teeth and gums will start to harden and become tartar. A dentist will diagnose you with early gum disease if there is a 4-5mm gap between your gums and teeth.
Tartar + Bacteria = Receding Gums and Teeth
Symptoms of Early Periodontitis
- Inflamed gums, tender to touch
- Gums change color; become paler
- Bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Hardened plaque, tartar
- Tooth Sensitivity
- A change in your bite
- Receding gums
How Long Do You Keep Your Teeth with Early Periodontitis
Once you begin to lose the supporting bone, this is not reversible. Regular dentist visits will help maintain the condition and prevent tooth loss while improving your oral health. Healthy oral hygiene will also help keep early gum disease at bay.
Stage 3: Moderate Periodontitis
During moderate gum disease, you will start to notice your gums visibly pulling away from your teeth, exposing hidden enamel. This enamel is easier to damage. The bacteria will start that enamel to decay. Teeth loosen and can even move. You may notice a white discharge with an increased bad taste in your mouth.
Once you notice discharge, this means that infection has begun to set in. This is where you are at risk of losing your teeth.
Symptoms of Moderate Periodontitis
- Receding gums
- Exposure of hidden enamel on teeth
- Wobbly teeth
- Teeth that move position
- White discharge/infection
- Worsened bad breath
How Long Do You Keep Your Teeth with Moderate Periodontitis
Once infection sets in and begins to destroy the enamel, teeth, and gums, tooth loss can occur rapidly. How fast early periodontitis turns into moderate is left up to your level of dental hygiene and receiving proper oral care from a dentist or periodontist. Longitudinal studies show that, on average, it takes 50-65 weeks, or 12 to 16 months, to develop to this stage without any treatment.
Stage 4: Stage 4: Advanced Periodontal Disease
At this point in periodontal disease, you will begin to lose teeth, experience bone loss, and fight infection that can easily spread to other parts of your body. Your suppressed immune system will be less likely to fight off infection, leading to major health risks like diabetes and even heart disease.
How Long Does Gum Disease Last?
Gum disease is irreversible, meaning once it’s advanced past gingivitis and you are diagnosed with gum disease, you will experience permanent effects. However, periodontal disease is treatable and curable with a combination of at-home and surgical treatments.
Treat Your Periodontal Disease in Scranton, PA
If you believe you are experiencing a bout of gingivitis or have gum disease in Scranton, PA, Dr. Charles Dennis and dental hygienists are trained to help. At Abington Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, we offer periodontal disease treatment to help you keep your teeth and smile brighter. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!