While teeth are meant to last for life, tooth loss is unfortunately a reality for many people. For some, an oral health condition has led to the loss, while for others, an accident or trauma has caused a tooth to fall out. But what factors might contribute to tooth loss?
Oral hygiene is one of the top factors when it comes to tooth loss. For many, lack of proper oral hygiene, or even skipping those essential dental exams and cleanings can lead to oral health problems that go unchecked. For example, untreated cavities are often asymptomatic, meaning you may not know you have a large cavity until it’s too late to fix it, and then the tooth may need to be extracted to avoid an infection . Taking the best care of your teeth can help you avoid tooth loss!
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss, especially in older adults . Although you may not think gum disease can impact your teeth, the opposite is true. Your gums play an essential role in protecting your teeth and keeping them firmly anchored in their sockets. When the gum tissue becomes inflamed and infected, this can create pockets around the tooth roots, which can lead to loose teeth and, ultimately, tooth loss.
Trauma is usually an unavoidable factor that can cause you to unexpectedly lose a tooth. For people who have experienced a knocked-out tooth or a cracked tooth, sometimes, these teeth can’t be saved. The good news? Seeking treatment from your dentist as soon as possible after the trauma maximizes your chances for saving your tooth. When you go to the dentist, take all pieces of the tooth with you stored in saliva or milk.
Smoking and tobacco use is an avoidable contributing factor to tooth loss. In research, smoking is “significantly associated with teeth loss” . But how does tobacco use affect your smile, exactly? Smoking increases the amount of plaque and tartar in your mouth, which makes it more likely that you would experience gum disease. Smoking can also increase your risk for infections, as it interferes with your immune system and can make it more difficult for you to heal following an oral procedure.
What Should You Do If You’ve Lost a Tooth?
You might think losing a single tooth isn’t a big deal, especially if the loss is in the back of your mouth and can’t easily be seen. However, the surrounding teeth will naturally attempt to fill the gap, which can lead to teeth shifting that can change your whole smile. Losing a tooth also means losing jawbone over time, which can lead to a more aged facial appearance.
Fortunately, there are many options for restoring your lost tooth. From dental implants to dental bridges and partial dentures, you can prevent disruption to your smile. Many of these factors that contribute to tooth loss are preventable, so work with your experienced dentist to keep your smile strong and healthy for life!