Just 60 years ago, it was an accepted assumption that as we aged we would lose our natural teeth. Today, that is not the case! Many of today’s older adults are keeping their teeth for longer than ever before. There is no reason everyone cannot keep their teeth for a lifetime, because there are only two main causes of tooth loss, neither of which is the aging process.
Tooth Loss Caused by Trauma
The first leading cause of tooth loss is trauma. Tooth loss from trauma might be anything from taking a softball in the face to biting into a frozen candy bar. Clenching and grinding – which is often done in response to stress – can also cause trauma to your teeth. Other kinds of tooth trauma are caused by poor judgment in using our teeth for things we shouldn’t use them for! Your teeth are great tools, but not for things like:
- Removing caps, tops or lids
- Cracking ice cubes, nut shells, or popcorn kernels
- Chewing on pencils or pens
- Holding clothes hangers
- Loosening knots or tearing off tags
- Cutting fishing line
Tooth Loss from Disease
The second main cause of tooth loss is disease. Tooth loss from disease refers to the decay of your teeth caused by plaque, or the bacterial build-up that resides in the sticky stuff on your teeth. If this tooth decay is not kept under control, it can lead to periodontal disease, which inflames gums and destroys supporting tissues such as ligaments and bone. Periodontal Disease can result in loose teeth, which can eventually fall out.
The biggest contributors to Periodontal Disease are poor oral hygiene and lack of professional care. Other factors that put you at greater risk for Periodontal Disease and potential tooth loss include:
- Poor nutrition
If you have any of the above risk factors, it is imperative that you see a dentist more often. Frequency of dental visits typically depends on your particular case, but you should consult with your dentist to determine how often you need to be seen, particularly if you have gum disease. Also, if you have any of the above risks, be sure your dentist is doing a complete periodontal evaluation at least on an annual basis.
A Smile for a Lifetime
Dental care to prevent tooth loss is a partnership between you and your dentist. Make routine appointments to see your dentist and keep them. Take care of your teeth by brushing twice a day with a soft-bristled tooth brush and flossing once daily as well. Avoid situations that could pose a risk to causing trauma to your teeth, and if you do have an accident, see your dentist immediately. With the help of your dentist and by taking care of your teeth now, you can ensure that you will have a healthy, natural, and beautiful smile that will last for many years to come!