Tooth loss is a prevalent health condition in the adult population. According to the American
College of Prosthodontists, it’s estimated that 178 million Americans are missing at least a
Why Dental Health Is So Important to Your Overall Health
Missing teeth make it difficult to chew food which, in turn, affects your ability to eat nutritious
meals that sustain and improve your overall health. Even a single missing tooth can create
issues when chewing.
Losing more teeth can lead to more pronounced changes in facial structure, giving you a sunken
appearance around the mouth and cheeks. If multiple teeth are missing, the remaining teeth
will begin to shift and change their position in order to compensate for the excess space.
Missing teeth also affect the structure of the jawbone. Over time, the bone that no longer
supports natural teeth will dissolve away. This bone resorption makes it more difficult to wear
dentures or to replace teeth with dental implants.
How Tooth Loss Affects Individuals
Having missing teeth often causes changes to your physical appearance and impacts the first
thing that many people notice about you – your smile. Gaps in the smile often make people feel
insecure and more self-conscious about their physical appearance. When teeth are missing,
your confidence and your willingness to fully engage and participate in social situations are
Tooth loss also has psychological implications, leading to a lowered self-confidence and other
problems like depression and isolation. So, you see, tooth loss can have a huge impact on both
your physical health and mental well-being.
Tooth Loss Risk Factors
- Being older than 35: The risk of tooth loss increases after you pass the age of 35.
- Being male: Males are at a higher risk of losing teeth than females.
- Poor dental hygiene: Poor oral hygiene and neglect can lead to severe dental problems. Periodontitis, a gum disease that causes inflammation and infection of the gums, is the most frequent dental issue next to dental decay. Early treatment of cavities and gum disease can prevent the spread of dental disease and tooth loss.
- Infrequent visits to see a dentist: Visit your dentist regularly so they can detect and resolve any issues before they become health issues.
- Smoking: Smoking increases your likelihood of having dental problems and should be avoided in order to maintain proper oral health.
- Diabetes: Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to periodontal problems. Gums may easily become inflamed, causing the gums to bleed. Left untreated, inflamed gums may advance into full-blown periodontitis, which can cause the teeth to become loose within the jawbone. If you have diabetes, you can lower your risk of developing periodontitis by keeping your blood sugar levels well controlled.
- High blood pressure: High blood pressure also increases the risk of developing gum disease. Medications prescribed for high blood pressure can also cause dry mouth, leading to tooth decay.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: Rheumatoid arthritis is linked to gum disease by inflammation. Studies show the more teeth you lose, the more severe your RA is likely to be. To avoid tooth loss, people with rheumatoid arthritis should regularly visit their dentist and maintain proper oral hygiene.
Reasons for Teeth Falling Out
- Periodontal disease
Periodontitis occurs when plaque-containing bacteria and tartar form below the gumline.
These bacteria produce toxins that irritate the gums and cause an inflammatory response.
Inflammation destroys the supporting bone and gum tissue, which can eventually cause the
teeth to become loose or fall out.
- Mouth injury or trauma
Injury can affect otherwise healthy teeth in the absence of any specific disease. Although
the teeth are healthy, trauma can be a reason for the teeth to fall out. Injury to the mouth
can weaken surrounding supporting structures and cause tooth loss.
Poor oral hygiene, such as not brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist regularly, can lead
to advanced tooth decay and cavities. Without adequate daily cleaning, normal bacteria
present in the mouth feed on the carbohydrates that you eat and they proliferate, causing
cavities that erode the tooth structure.
- Poor diet
Diet plays a major role in your dental health. Nutritious food choices and limited alcohol consumption help to keep the teeth and gums healthy. Consuming alcohol daily risks tooth loss as alcohol is an irritant to the gums, impacts the immune system, and alters healing.
- Existing disease
Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, long-term kidney disease,
and lung disease resulting in a high risk of tooth loss as the medicines used to manage these
conditions often promote dry mouth. Without adequate saliva flow, foods, and beverages
are not diluted and rinsed away, allowing tooth enamel to erode and gum tissue to become
prone to bleeding.
How to Avoid Losing Teeth
Tooth loss cannot be prevented completely, but one can reduce the risk of tooth decay and
loss by following these simple tips.
- Thoroughly brush your teeth twice a day
- Avoid smoking
- Floss daily
- Visit your dentist every 6 months, more often if you have a history of gum disease
- Wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth when playing extreme sports
- Control your sugar consumption
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