Tooth loss has never been a fashion trend, but not long ago it was considered normal for the elderly. Luckily, in our modern times, we have procedures and fake teeth that can help us keep our smiles. But even before you get to that point, you have the ability to prevent tooth loss.
1. Causes of Tooth Loss
- Poor Oral Hygiene. The number one cause of tooth loss is poor oral health. Three of the most common – and most destructive – bad habits of oral health include:
- Overlooked Daily Dental Habits – If people neglect their teeth, they allow plaque and bacteria to build up, which can lead to conditions such as cavities, gum disease and even oral cancer. Without healthy dental habits, the less you brush and floss, the more likely you are to lose teeth in the future.
- Smoking – Most people don’t think about how smoking affects their dental health. Smoking or chewing tobacco is a leading cause for oral cancer – but it also can cause gum disease, which leads to tooth loss.
- Grinding Teeth (Bruxism) – Whether you’re a naturally anxious person, or you grind in your sleep, it’s not a habit you want to keep. Grinding your teeth can wear teeth down, cause fracturing, loosening and tooth loss. If you struggle with grinding your teeth, ask your dentist about a mouth guard to wear at night, or brainstorm ways to de-stress.
- Poor Eating Habits. Certain foods can take an immense toll on your teeth. Certain foods, snacks and drinks can slowly erode the protective enamel on your teeth, leaving you even more vulnerable to tooth loss than before. It’s best to avoid eating foods that are especially sugary or acidic.
- Disease. Gum Disease can be a result of several factors – one of which is poor dental habits (as mentioned above). Even worse, if gum disease is not taken care of, it can lead to increasingly formidable conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and arthritis. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss.
- Trauma. Tooth loss can be a result of injury or misuse of a person’s teeth. A trauma that causes tooth loss can cover anything – from a blow to the mouth to using your teeth as a can opener. In contact sports such as football, players are encouraged to wear a mouth guard to protect their teeth from damage. Likewise, you’ve probably heard any dentist warn against using your teeth to open anything or chew hard on frozen things (ice cubes, nut shells, popcorn kernels, etc.).
- Age. Depending on the age of the person dealing with tooth loss, it may be a common condition or an urgent one.
- Tooth Loss in Infants or Toddlers – If your baby is losing their newly grown teeth, it’s best to see a doctor immediately. Tooth loss at that age is uncommon and could be a sign of a serious disease.
- Tooth Loss in Kids between 4 – 8 Years – Tooth loss in “mid-childhood” is completely normal. At this stage of a child’s life, the roots of their baby teeth are dissolving – getting ready to fall out, providing space for the permanent teeth to grown in. Since the roots of the teeth need time to dissolve fully, it’s dangerous to forcefully pull a tooth out. This could damage the process of growing permanent teeth.
- Tooth Loss in Adults – In adults, tooth loss should not occur. If it does, talk to your dentist or doctor right away as it could be a symptom of diabetes or dementia (in elderly).
2. Preventing Tooth Loss
In light of the dangers that tooth loss brings, what steps should you take toward prevention?
- Routine Habits to Maintain Good Dental Health:
- Brush twice daily
- Floss at least once a day
- Visit a dentist once every 6 months
- Other Precautions to Take:
- Quit smoking
- Choose healthy food that contains:
The link between oral health and overall health is an important one. How you manage your teeth may affect how you manage the entirety of your health. Visits to the dentist could reveal a serious health condition that you were not aware of. (Find out How a Dental Visit Could Save Your Life.)
With that in mind, talk to your doctor right away if you unexpectedly lose a tooth. You might just be saving yourself from more trouble in the future.
What routine dental habits do you need brushing-up on?