A full set of teeth is something that many of us take for granted. Unfortunately, tooth loss is an extremely common problem and probably affects more people than you expect. Despite our best efforts to maintain our oral health and retain our natural teeth as long as possible, the average American will have lost 12 permanent teeth by the time they reach 50 years old.
So, what exactly causes tooth loss, and what can you do to stop it?
Periodontal disease is one of the two most common causes of tooth loss among adults in the United States. Periodontal disease is a chronic bacterial infection that occurs when the bacteria that is found in dental plaque begins to penetrate the soft tissue of the gums. When this happens, it causes irritation and soreness and eventually the gums also become infected. Left untreated, the infection can cause the gums to recede and jaw bone to deteriorate, both of which can affect your ability to retain your natural teeth.
Periodontal disease is extremely common and irreversible and so regular check-ups with your dentist are essential. This is because your dentist can work with you to prevent it from occurring, or if you already have some degree of periodontal disease, stop it from progressing.
Dental cavities are the other leading cause of tooth loss among adults. Cavities are a result of dental decay. This occurs when bacteria on your teeth interacts with sugars in the food and drink you consume and creates acids. These acids attack the enamel of your teeth, which is the hardest, outer later. Gradually the acid eats through the enamel, exposing the softer, inner layers of your tooth. Without being treated, the decay can eventually reach the root where infection will compromise the flow of blood and nutrients to the tooth, causing it to die. The best way to counteract the development of dental cavities is to ensure that you brush your teeth thoroughly to remove bacteria and food debris at least twice a day, preferably after eating. Using a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash, flossing and cutting back on sugary snacks will also be extremely beneficial.
Many adults suffer from a condition known as bruxism, which is characterized by the subconscious or unconscious clenching or grinding of your teeth. This is often a result of stress or anxiety but can also occur for a variety of other reasons. Unfortunately, this habit can wear down the enamel on your teeth, making them more prone to decay. It also puts strain on the surrounding tissue, gum and bone, and if these are compromised, your teeth could become loose and eventually fall out.
Bruxism can be treated, and your dentist may recommend a couple of different options. These include wearing a dental guard at night while you sleep, finding methods to relax and de-stress, and in some cases, adjusting the position of your bite with orthodontic solutions.
It may not be the most common cause of tooth loss, but many people suffer trauma to their teeth and this can lead to tooth loss. Some of the most common types of accident/injury include automobile accidents, trips and falls that result in a blow to the face and sporting injuries such as a collision on the football field or a ball to the face. If you participate in sports whereby an injury is likely, make sure you wear all the protective equipment available including mouth guards and helmets.
To schedule an appointment, contact us and our knowledgeable dental team would be happy to assist you.