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Tooth Loss: Overview, Causes, Replacement Options & Prevention

What is Tooth Loss?

Tooth loss occurs when one or more teeth fall out. It is normal among children who are yet to have their permanent teeth. However, for adults, it can be an indication of poor oral health.

In fact, according to the American College of Prosthodontists, more than 120 million people in the United States are missing at least a tooth, while more than 36 million of the population do not have any teeth.

What causes Tooth Loss?

Tooth loss can be due to various reasons including an accident or injury, dental problems like gum diseases or tooth decay, unhealthy habits such as smoking and too much consumption of alcohol, malnutrition, and natural factors like age.

  • Accidents or injury can include motor accidents which involves blow or trauma to the face and head, sports injuries especially with contact sports like boxing, and falls.
  • Dental problems are the most common reason why many of the adult population are at risk of losing their teeth. Oral-related issues like tooth decay and gum disease can cause damage to the teeth, making it loose and eventually, fall out when untreated.
  • Unhealthy habits like smoking and over-consumption of alcohol and malnutrition can weaken the supporting structures of the teeth due to lack of nutrition.
  • Age is another common reason why most seniors suffer edentulism or the condition of being toothless as they age. As our age increase in number, our risk of developing dental problems like gum disease also increases.

What are the risk factors for tooth loss?

  • Genetics
  • Being male
  • Being older than 35 years old
  • Not using a toothbrush
  • Missing dental appointments
  • Smoking
  • Having diabetes, high blood pressure, and rheumatoid arthritis

Should I replace my missing tooth?

Aside from its aesthetic consequences, missing a tooth can also hamper the quality of life and oral health of the individual. Because teeth aid with speech and eating, tooth loss can affect word pronunciation and chewing which can affect digestion and nutrition. Moreover, missing teeth can cause movements of other teeth which can result to gaps between teeth, crowding, misalignment, or bite problems.

How can I replace a lost Tooth?

There are various options you can avail to get your missing tooth or teeth replaced which include dental implants, dentures, and bridge.

  • Dental Implants. Permanent dental implants are sturdy, natural-looking, and are permanent, preventing the replacement from slipping out of the mouth. However, this option can be more expensive than other tooth replacement options.
  • Dentures. Dentures are removable. They are also cheaper option especially when you are missing most or all your teeth. Dentures come in full or partial, depending on the number of missing teeth you have.
  • Dental Bridges. Dental bridges are another good option to replace consecutive missing teeth. These dental restorations are either implanted into the mouth or are bonded to pre-existing teeth.

How can I prevent Tooth Loss?

To prevent tooth loss, prevent its causes from affecting your teeth through proper oral hygiene. Most dental problems like gum disease are preventable by brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash to avoid plaque and tartar buildup which can cause infection and decay.

If you are into contact sports, wearing a mouth guard can minimize the impact of the blow. Meanwhile, it is also advisable to quit smoking and have a healthy diet.


References:

  • https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/9-risk-factors-tooth-loss#1
  • https://www.gotoapro.org/facts-figures/
  • https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/data-statistics/tooth-loss/adults
  • https://www.caldwelldds.com/blog/common-injuries-that-lead-to-tooth-loss/
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