Common Causes of Tooth Loss

Tooth Loss Causes

Tooth loss is a common issue in adults, and often a byproduct of aging. According to research from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, adults age 20 to 64 have an average of 25 or fewer teeth remaining (out of 32), and nearly four percent have no remaining teeth.1 The truth is, tooth loss doesn’t have to be quite so prevalent. In many cases, tooth loss can be prevented with good oral hygiene habits, regular and professional dental care and avoiding or improving certain risk factors.

Poor Oral Hygiene 

You have probably heard about the importance of proper oral hygiene throughout your life, and there’s good reason for that. By not brushing your teeth multiple times a day and flossing at least once, you put your teeth at a much higher risk for periodontal disease, cavities, tooth decay and accumulation of harmful plaque. These conditions are the primary causes of tooth loss.

Gum Disease

As mentioned previously, periodontal, or gum disease, is a major cause of tooth loss in adults. The American Academy of Periodontology estimates that three out of four American adults experience some level of gum disease, yet three percent don’t seek treatment.2

Gum disease often comes in three phases. Gingivitis, which is milder, is characterized by swollen and bleeding gums, bad breath and receding gum line. Periodontitis and advanced periodontitis, which are more severe, can be identified by spaces developing between the teeth, loose-feeling teeth when biting, misaligned teeth and buildup of pus between the teeth and gums.

Avoiding the Dentist

Having “no need,” no insurance and busy schedules are the top three reasons people avoid going to the dentist, according to the American Dental Association.3 Regardless, children and adults should visit the dentist every six months. Even if your teeth seem healthy, regular visits help prevent smaller issues from becoming larger issues, which could be the difference between tooth loss and saving a tooth before it’s too late.

Poor Diet

Along with oral hygiene, you probably have heard all about how much sugary foods can destroy your teeth. There’s good reason for that also! It’s not just candy and soda that can harm your pearly whites, however. Highly acidic foods, foods rich in carbohydrates and alcoholic beverages are known to have similar effects as sugar when it comes to tooth decay. You don’t have to completely curb sugary treats and pasta, though. Just be sure to take care of your teeth when you partake.

Trauma

Tooth trauma can be unavoidable, especially when playing certain sports like hockey, football and boxing. It’s important, however, that anyone who experiences oral trauma seeks professional medical attention shortly afterward, even if the injury doesn’t appear serious. Weeks or even years later, complications from a fractured root, such as infection, can surface, which can lead to tooth loss when left untreated.

Bruxism

More commonly known as grinding your teeth, bruxism can be mild or severe. In more severe cases, it can cause excessive tooth damage and may lead to tooth loss. Many people grind their teeth subconsciously, so be on the lookout for symptoms such as jaw or neck pain, increased tooth sensitivity, headaches, worn tooth enamel and fractured, chipped or loose teeth.

Osteoporosis

This disease causes low bone density, primarily in menopausal women. When the jaw becomes fragile or less dense, tooth loss can occur as a result. Keeping up with regular dental treatment is one way of minimizing the chance of tooth loss in osteoporosis sufferers.

Risk Factors

Risk factors aren’t necessarily causes, but they do increase the likelihood of tooth loss, primarily due to the increased risk for gum disease. Some of the main risk factors associated with tooth loss include:

  • Smoking – Smokers are twice as likely to develop gum disease due to a weakened immune system, which has a more difficult time fighting-off bacteria in plaque.4
  • Diabetes – Like smokers, those with diabetes are more likely to develop periodontal disease due to a less effective immune system.
  • Eating disorders – Bulimia and anorexia increase acid levels inside the mouth, which over time, break down tooth enamel, cause cavities and eventually, could cause tooth loss.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis – There’s a link between rheumatoid arthritis and periodontal disease, primarily because the medication used for RA reduces the effectiveness of the immune system.5

Prevention

Though certain causes and risk factors may be out of your control, many can be managed, which ultimately helps prevent tooth loss. Quitting smoking, cutting back on sweets, brushing your teeth after every meal, flossing every day and scheduling regular teeth cleanings are just a handful of changes you can make to reduce your risk of gum disease and subsequent tooth loss. If you play contact sports, always wear protective gear like helmets and mouth guards.

Dental Implants in Louisville

In certain cases, tooth loss is unavoidable or the signs may have been identified too late. In those unfortunate instances, dental implants, which replace missing teeth with natural-looking permanent teeth, may be the perfect solution!

To find out if you’re a good candidate for dental implants, contact the implant experts at Greater Louisville Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates to schedule an initial office visit. Call (502) 459-8012 or visit us online today!

Why Do We Have Wisdom Teeth?

Closeup of x-ray image growing wisdom teeth in pain

From the teenage years to the early twenties, our teeth undergo major changes in orientation and structure thanks to the growth of our wisdom teeth. Though some may not need to have their wisdom teeth removed or may not have any at all, the majority of teenagers and young adults suffer through the sometimes painful eruption of these seemingly useless teeth.

If they serve no purpose, as many believe, why do we have them in the first place?

Why Are They Called Wisdom Teeth?

The last time your teeth did anything of note was probably when you tucked a baby tooth under your pillow for the tooth fairy. Now, all of a sudden, your teeth have decided to have a late growth spurt. Your wisdom teeth are essentially the last leg of your oral development. While it may seem more reasonable for your wisdom teeth to erupt while you’re still young, just to get it out of the way, they actually haven’t even begun developing until after age 10. When they’re finally ready to erupt, the positioning of your other teeth is typically set in stone, making it difficult for your wisdom teeth to fit. Because these late-blooming teeth erupt when you’re older and supposedly worldlier, they’ve been dubbed “wisdom teeth.”

What Purpose Does Wisdom Teeth Serve?

Oral surgeons and patients can typically agree that wisdom teeth are usually nothing but trouble. Though some individuals may have plenty of room to accommodate the growth of wisdom teeth or may not develop them at all, those who do have them know they often are accompanied by soreness, infection or impaction, potentially resulting in major oral health issues in the future. For those who have wisdom teeth, extraction may be the most logical next step to safeguard and maintain good oral health. But, if wisdom teeth will just be removed, why do we have them in the first place?

Many researchers have concluded wisdom teeth are a product of evolution. Anthropologists and biologists believe the wisdom teeth were used by our ancestors to grind coarse, rough food such as leaves, nuts and gamey meat. Because humans have grown accustomed to softer foods and the use of tableware, the human jaw has shrunk over time, rendering wisdom teeth nearly useless and officially classifying them as vestigial organs.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons in Louisville, KY

The discomfort caused by the eruption of your wisdom teeth doesn’t have to be permanent. An extraction can put an end to the pain and tightness in your jaw so you can get back to your daily life without the distraction. Louisville residents can trust their smiles to the expert surgeons at Greater Louisville Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates. Contact us online or call 502-459-8012 to schedule an appointment today!