Tooth Loss: Causes, Risks, Tooth Replacement Options, and More

Understand tooth loss

Tooth Loss More Common Than You Think

Tooth loss is a serious problem for patients of all ages. More than 36 million Americans don’t have any teeth, with 120 million missing one or more teeth. However, you can take steps to protect your natural teeth, replace missing teeth, and continue to enjoy a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Causes of Tooth Loss

You might experience tooth loss at some point in your life for many reasons. Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss. As gum disease progresses, it weakens the bone around tooth roots. This can allow teeth to shift, loosen, and eventually fall out. Gum disease prevention and treatment can prevent this from happening.

You might also experience dental trauma or injury. Sports injuries are relatively common, which is why many types of sports call for mouthguards during play. Any kind of physical accident could result in missing teeth if the mouth or jaw is struck. Bruxism (grinding and clenching during sleep) can also lead to tooth loss over time.

Tooth decay is another common cause of tooth loss. Untreated cavities can reach a point where they expose the interior layers of your tooth. At that point, the pulp and nerve tissue inside can become infected. You may be able to save your tooth with root canal treatment, but if the infection continues, you will likely need extraction.

Risk Factors That Can Lead to Tooth Loss

Missing teeth are associated with various risk factors that can increase your chances of tooth loss. Smoking and other tobacco use are among the most prevalent actions contributing to gum disease. Smokers have twice the gum disease risk as non-smokers.

Diabetes and other health conditions can increase your risk as well. Diabetes increases glucose levels in your saliva, which allows bacteria responsible for gum disease to thrive. Various conditions that affect your immune system can let infection take hold more easily and lead to tooth loss.

Bruxism increases your risk of tooth loss by wearing away enamel over time or potentially causing chips or cracks. Enamel loss leaves you more susceptible to severe tooth decay, as less material protects the interior layers of your teeth.

Saliva helps manage bacteria levels in a healthy mouth to prevent gum disease. If you experience dry mouth, you have reduced saliva levels, and bacteria can quickly grow out of control. Dry mouth is associated with mouth breathing, sleep apnea, smoking, and various other factors.

How You Can Prevent Tooth Loss

Prevention starts with ensuring a proper oral health routine. Ensure you’re brushing twice daily and flossing to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Visiting your dentist for routine appointments is also vital. An examination can identify issues early enough to treat them effectively, and teeth cleaning helps prevent future problems.

If you have any symptoms of tooth decay, such as sensitive teeth, visible cavities, or pain when chewing or biting, reach out to your dentist right away. These issues only worsen if left untreated, and early treatment is the best way to handle tooth decay.

The same is true for gum disease. If you notice red, swollen, or bleeding gums, schedule an appointment with your dentist. Early gum disease is highly treatable, so you can avoid tooth loss and other serious complications.

How Tooth Loss Can Affect Your Life

Tooth loss is a serious matter that affects your life in many different ways. The most obvious is the visible gap in your smile, which affects its appearance and can impact your self-confidence.

That gap does more than just affect the look of your smile, though. It can also cause chewing problems. Over time, other teeth begin to shift into the gap and cause misalignments and bite issues. You could end up needing orthodontic treatment.

When you have a missing tooth, the roots can no longer stimulate the jawbone. This can lead to jawbone deterioration over time. This is particularly noticeable in patients who have lived without any teeth for years and can result in a shrunken facial appearance.

Options for Tooth Replacement

There are many options available to replace missing teeth. Dental bridges are among the most common. The two teeth around a gap are used as supports for a row of replacement teeth that bridge the gap.

In other cases, dental implants may be appropriate. They are embedded in the jawbone for lasting support. Dental implants are a foundation for crowns to replace individual teeth or implant-supported dentures to replace an entire smile.

Traditional dentures are still a practical option in some cases. Both full and partial dentures are available to suit various situations, restoring your smile and your ability to chew.

The Right Approach to Your Missing Teeth

If you’re one of the many Americans living with missing teeth, you need an effective solution to restore your smile and ensure lasting health. Orchard Dental Associates provides a range of restoration options and can create a custom treatment plan for your needs. Book your appointment with the best family dentist in Corpus Christi today.

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