Causes and Treatment for Adult Tooth Loss

Losing a tooth as a child was a glorious event — it meant The Tooth Fairy was on her way to put money under your pillow.

But losing teeth as an adult? Not so fun (and sadly, no Tooth Fairy comes to your house).

As adults, we typically have about 25 permanent teeth, so even losing one tooth can have an effect on how you eat, your health and even your confidence.

As adults, we typically have about 25 permanent teeth, so even losing one tooth can have an effect on how you eat, your health and even your confidence.

What Causes Adult Tooth Loss?

Adults lose teeth for many reasons, ranging from trauma (accidents) to gum disease, tooth decay, bruxism (grinding) and misaligned teeth.

The Risk Factors for Adult Tooth Loss

There are many factors that can influence the health of your chompers.

  1. Lifestyle has a huge impact on adult tooth loss. Brushing your teeth twice a day can help you maintain healthy teeth, but brushing only once a day — or not at all — give bacteria the chance to set up shop on your teeth. This bacteria can eventually lead to decay, cavities and, eventually, periodontal diseases like gingivitis.
  2. Smoking and chewing tobacco: two bad habits that are known to increase your risk for cancer and tooth loss. The large-scale Buffalo OsteoPerio Study also found that smokers are twice as likely to lose their teeth as non-smokers.
  3. Poor nutrition can also affect tooth loss. Teeth need a number of essential nutrients — like calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, potassium and vitamin C — to stay strong. A diet lacking in those vitamins means your body doesn’t have the building blocks to keep your teeth strong, leading to increased risk for decay, breakage and tooth loss. Foods high in acid, sugar and carbohydrates are also shown to increase the plaque on your teeth, eventually leading to cavities and weakened teeth.
  4. Autoimmune diseases (like diabetes). Any disease that affects your immunity can also cause tooth loss. The reason? Your body can’t fight off inflammation as well as people without the diseases, so conditions like periodontal disease can linger and worsen, leading to the loss of enamel, gum tissue and whole teeth.

How to Prevent Adult Tooth Loss

It’s not always possible to avoid losing teeth as an adult, but there are several steps you can take to decrease your risk.

Your dentist is your first line of defense against tooth loss, so make sure you make an appointment to see him every six months. A biannual dental check-up typically involves both a “deep” clean of your teeth where all lingering plaque is removed. Your dentist will also check your teeth for any problems — like cavities and disease — so any problems can be addressed before it’s too late.

Brushing twice a day should be a priority, as should flossing and rinsing with an anti-plaque mouthwash. Maintaining a healthy diet with minimal added sugars (like from sweetened juices and sodas) can also help you keep all your adult teeth.

And most of all? Stop smoking and chewing tobacco if that’s your vice. Quitting those habits can dramatically decrease your chances of losing teeth and developing life-threatening cancers.

What to Do If You Lose a Tooth

You need to see your dentist right away. Sometimes dentists can save a lost tooth by placing it back in the socket, especially if the whole tooth comes out (including the root). If that’s not possible, your dentist can help you fill the space the permanent tooth left behind with either a tooth-colored crown made of metal and porcelain, a dental implant or a bridge.

Just don’t let it go: Losing one tooth makes it more like that you’ll lose even more teeth because the empty space puts pressure on the surrounding teeth, leading to fracture from overuse. You’re also more likely to develop infections and other dental issues, leading to painful — and costly — procedures down the road.

Contact us at TruFamily Dental to make an appointment today.

Posted In: Oral & Dental Health Tips