Common Causes of Tooth Loss
There is nothing to smile about when it comes to tooth loss. Having one or more missing teeth can affect the way you eat, speak, and smile. Tooth loss is common, but in many cases, completely preventable.
Adult humans usually have 32 teeth, which includes your wisdom teeth if you have them. If you have lost other teeth, you are not alone: adults age 20 to 64 have an average of 24.92 remaining teeth, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Only 3.75 percent of adults age 20 to 64 have no remaining teeth.
Your teeth are very strong and are capable of breaking up even the hardest foods while chewing. Along with your gums, ligaments, and bone hold your teeth securely in individual sockets in your jawbone. Certain dental health problems and other factors can weaken these tissues to allow your teeth to loosen and, if left untreated, fall out. One of the best ways to prevent tooth loss is to know what causes it.
Most Common Causes of Tooth Loss
The early form of gum disease, known as gingivitis, condition starts when bacteria and plaque form on your teeth and around your gum line. Periodontal disease is an advanced form of gum disease. Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults, according to the NIH. Brushing and flossing should remove this bacterial plaque, but without proper dental hygiene, the plaque can harden into tartar. Dental plaque, which contains bacterial toxins, can continue to accumulate on top of the plaque.
The toxins in the plaque can cause the gum tissue to become inflamed, bleed easily, and pull away from the nearby tooth. Periodontal pockets can form around the tooth or teeth; bacteria and toxins may form deep within these pockets, which can lead to loss of the connective tissue and bone that holds the tooth in place.
The bacteria living in your mouth can also cause tooth decay and cavities, also known as dental caries, which can cause tooth loss. Bacteria turn the sugars and starches you eat into acids. These acids can dissolve the minerals in your tooth enamel in an action known as demineralization, which weakens the tooth enamel. In time, the acid erodes the enamel or causes pits.
The acid produced by bacteria can also seep through tiny pores in the tooth to reach the dentin, which is the softer layer of tissue that makes up the body of your tooth. The bacteria can continue to grow and produce acid, causing the breakdown of the enamel and dentin to create a cavity. Left untreated, the bacteria and acid can reach the tooth’s inner layers to affect the pulp and nerve tissues. This leads to tooth decay and tooth loss.
High levels of the hormones progesterone and estrogen during pregnancy can cause the ligaments and bone around teeth to loosen. Fortunately, this is usually temporary and does not result in tooth loss unless the woman has other dental problems. Osteoporosis, which is a condition associated with thinning bones and fractures, can cause tooth loss too.
Prevention of Tooth Loss
The best ways to prevent tooth loss is to maintain good oral health habits and to see your dentist regularly. Daily brushing and flossing help remove the plaque and bacteria from your mouth before it turns into tartar. Regular visits to your dentist should include trips to the dental hygienist, who can clean stubborn tartar from your teeth before it can cause gum disease and tooth loss. Your dentist can also spot signs of dental problems in their earliest stages, while they are easiest to treat.
Treatments for Tooth Loss
Dentists can now replace missing teeth in a variety of ways. If you are missing just a couple of teeth, your dentist may suggest a bridge or partial denture. If you have lost all of your teeth, your dentist may suggest a full set of dentures. You may be a candidate for dental implants, which involve the placement of permanent posts and the creation of fabricated teeth that attach to those posts.
Your dentist will recommend treatment based on how many teeth you have lost, your overall dental health, and your expectations.
Williams & Daily Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes. Contact Williams & Daily at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.