I lost 8 teeth between 2020 and June 2022. Five more teeth are loose. I have feared the dentist for years but talked to my doctor and finally saw a dentist. Last week, the dentist confirmed that I have advanced gum disease and referred me to a periodontist because she said the problem is urgent. My appointment with the periodontist is on September 12, but I do not know what to expect. Can you give me an idea of whether a specialist may recommend that I get dentures? Is it too late to stop gum disease? Thank you. Perry from OKC
Thank you for your question. Your dentist wisely refers you to a periodontist. If you have lost eight teeth, your condition will progress without treatment. Dr. Finley would need to take x-rays and examine your teeth and gums for an accurate diagnosis.
Although more than 47 percent of U.S. adults aged 37 and older have gum disease, the condition is treatable. We will explain possible options.
Will You Lose All Your Teeth to Gum Disease?
Whether you lose all your teeth to gum disease depends on several factors:
- Restoring your gum loss – You must follow your periodontist’s instructions closely because healthy gums are vital for healing your ligaments and teeth. Your commitment to at-home care and treatment appointments can help save your teeth.
- Replacing bone loss – Advanced gum disease deteriorates the bone that supports your teeth. If your bone is damaged, a periodontist may recommend bone grafts to stabilize your teeth.
- Controlling chronic illness – Medical conditions that affect your immune response or your body’s ability to heal can affect the success of your periodontal treatment. If you have chronic medical concerns, work with your doctor to manage them and promote healing.
- Stop smoking – If you smoke, quit the habit because it will slow healing and can make it impossible for your gums to recover after periodontitis (advanced gum disease).
Will You Need Dentures?
If your teeth are unsavable, you will need dentures; however, removable dentures are not stable and will decrease your chewing efficiency. Still, complete dentures are better than functioning without teeth.
Dental implants make it possible to stabilize dentures so they function well and look natural. Two to six dental implants will help your denture stay in place. Denture stability increases with the number of implants you receive.
After a consultation, exam, and x-rays, your periodontist will explain your treatment options and whether you are at risk of losing any more teeth. We wish you a steady recovery.
David Finley, DDS, a Metairie, Louisiana, accredited Fellow of cosmetic dentistry and Academy of General Dentistry Fellow, sponsors this post.