Although they can be damaged, your teeth are designed to last your entire life. Unfortunately, tooth loss in adults is relatively common, with many people missing at least one tooth and 26% of adults over the age of 65 having just eight or fewer teeth remaining . There are many factors that can influence tooth loss in adults.
What are some of the most common reasons that adults lose their natural teeth?
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is considered to be the most common cause of tooth loss in older adults . Why is this?
In gum disease, an infection can damage the roots of the tooth that are partially protected and kept in place by healthy gum tissue. When gum tissue is infected, it can cause tooth roots to become loose, which can lead to loose teeth. When left untreated, eventually the teeth can fall out. Gum disease is very common among adults, so catching the condition early might just help save your teeth!
Adults are more at risk for tooth decay the older they get . This is due to a few factors, among them decreased saliva production, as saliva helps protect teeth from harmful bacteria.
Tooth decay is another of the top causes of tooth loss in adults. Early tooth decay generally causes very few or no symptoms at all. As the cavity progresses, it can affect the entire tooth to the point that it needs to be extracted, or will eventually fall out.
In most cases, tooth decay is entirely preventable, especially when you seek regular care with your dentist!
A tooth injury doesn’t have to be major, such as a knocked-out tooth, to lead to tooth loss. It can be a minor injury that gets worse over time, such as a crack or even a chip in the tooth .
When a tooth injury goes untreated, it can eventually worsen and affect the interior of the tooth, where the nerve tissue keeps the tooth alive. At this point, an infection may occur and require root canal therapy or an extraction.
Smoking dramatically increases your risk for tooth loss—smokers are over three times more likely to lose their teeth than people who don’t smoke . This is because smoking can lead to other problems in the oral cavity, such as tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to an increased risk of tooth loss.
As smoking can inhibit the symptoms of gum disease, including gum bleeding, people who smoke may not realize there’s a problem with their teeth or gums until the condition has progressed significantly.
You Can Prevent Tooth Loss!
The good news is that, in most cases, tooth loss can be prevented and potentially even reversed during its early stages. Your dentist is your partner in helping you take the best possible care of your teeth to prevent disease and keep your smile healthy!