Losing a tooth can be distressing and impact oral health and overall well-being. While tooth loss is commonly associated with aging, it’s not a normal part of getting older.
Tooth loss can occur at any age due to various factors. So what could cause a tooth to fall out? Here we explore the common causes of tooth loss and provide insights into preventive measures and treatment options.
Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene is one of the most significant contributors to tooth loss . Inadequate brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups can lead to the accumulation of plaque and tartar. Over time, this can cause gum disease and tooth decay, two of the biggest factors for tooth loss. Both conditions are preventable with proper oral hygiene at home and regular dental visits!
Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a common cause of tooth loss . It occurs when bacteria in the mouth infect and inflame the gums. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to the destruction of the gum tissues, periodontal ligaments, and bone supporting the teeth. Eventually, the teeth may become loose and fall out or require extraction because of the condition.
Untreated tooth decay, or cavities, can lead to tooth loss. When decay progresses, it can encompass a large area of the tooth, limiting your restoration options and potentially leading to a tooth extraction.
In addition, advanced decay can reach the tooth’s innermost layer, called the pulp, and cause an infection. The infection can spread to the surrounding tissues, causing a dental abscess, which can also require a tooth extraction .
Trauma or Injury
Accidents, falls, or sports injuries that involve a blow to the mouth can cause tooth loss. The impact can fracture or dislodge teeth or cause damage to the supporting structures. In such cases, prompt dental treatment is necessary to try and save the tooth. However, tooth extraction may be required in some instances, whether immediately after the trauma or in the weeks or months following.
Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)
Chronic teeth grinding or clenching, known as bruxism, can put excessive force on the teeth, leading to cracks or fractures that can cause tooth decay or an infection over time. It can also cause gum inflammation and damage to periodontal ligaments that support teeth, which can result in loose teeth.
Bruxism often occurs during sleep, making many people unaware of the habit. Wearing a nightguard or seeking treatment to manage bruxism can help prevent tooth damage and tooth loss caused by grinding.
Certain systemic conditions, such as diabetes, osteoporosis, and immune disorders, can increase the risk of tooth loss. These conditions can affect oral health by compromising the immune system, weakening bone density, or predisposing people to oral health conditions such as gum disease.
For example, people with diabetes are at higher risk for tooth loss due to gum disease. About 25% of adults over the age of 50 living with diabetes have severe tooth loss . If you have systemic health concerns, taking care of your smile is extra important!
Tooth Loss Is Not Normal
Remember that tooth loss is not a normal part of aging. Your teeth are meant to last you for life, so take good care of your teeth by eating healthy, brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and visiting your dentist. And if you have systemic health conditions or existing oral health concerns such as bruxism or gum disease, be sure to address these with your dentist and physician for a healthy body and smile!