Around 20 percent of adults age 65 and over are completely without teeth. That’s a lot of people when you think about it. And those who don’t lose all of their teeth tend to lose at least a few – over two thirds of people between the ages of 35 and 44 have lost at least one tooth.
Tooth loss happens, and it happens to a lot of people, but why? You may be confused about the reasons for tooth loss, and that’s where we come in. After all, we see it all the time at our Orlando dentist office. There are several reasons why tooth loss occurs, and we’re going to discuss the most common ones.
Public Enemy Number One: Gum Disease
It’s pretty common for people to assume that tooth loss is mainly caused by tooth decay, but that’s actually completely untrue. While tooth decay does claim quite a few teeth it can’t even hold a candle to gum disease.
Oral bacteria that gets below your gumline causes gum disease. It infects the gums, weakening their ability to support your teeth. Eventually your gums just give out altogether, and the bone that supports your teeth follow soon after. Without treatment for your gum disease the inevitable outcome is tooth loss. Guaranteed.
Tooth decay claims a lot of teeth too, but not if you get cavities treated early. In order for a cavity to really destroy a tooth it needs to get all the way to the root, which houses the dental pulp. Dental pulp is what keeps your teeth alive – it’s filled with blood vessels and nerve endings, and when it gets infected it can be really painful!
In most cases of severe tooth decay we can treat it and save the tooth with a root canal, but not always. If you leave that level of decay untreated it can keep spreading through the tooth, destabilizing it and making it a potential hazard for your other teeth. The last thing you want is to lose other teeth to a cavity that only exists in one!
Injuries, Both Major And Minor
We probably all know someone, or were that someone, who had a tooth knocked out as a kid. Sports, clumsiness, and all kinds of accidents can cause tooth loss. The wrong hit can completely take out a tooth, or it could do something far less noticeable: injure it to the point that it’s cracked but not broken.
When an accident that only cracks a tooth happens we don’t always treat it seriously because it’s hard to notice, especially if the crack happens below the gumline. Years later you could be faced with a tooth that suddenly falls off at the gums! These kinds of surprises are usually caused by root resorption, which happens when the root of a tooth dies and your body absorbs the tissue. It’s pretty uncommon, but not if you have a fractured tooth that’s lying in wait!
Are You A Tooth Grinder?
Also known as bruxism, the grinding, gnashing, and clenching of your teeth is surprisingly common and often completely unknown: many people do it in their sleep! Nighttime bruxism can result in a loss of tooth mass that results in severe wear, often past the tooth enamel and into the dentin.
Tooth wear that gets this bad can lead to serious decay, but that’s not the only problem facing bruxers: their teeth can loosen and fall out! Continual pressure on your teeth can lead to weakening of the bone and even bone loss. When that happens your teeth can start feeling loose, eventually just falling out completely. Thankfully bruxism is easy to treat!
How Do You Counter Tooth Loss?
The most common causes of tooth loss have to do with your oral hygiene. Proper brushing twice a day, flossing every night, and seeing us twice a year at Overmeyer Family Dental are the only reliable ways to prevent those forms of tooth loss.
In other situations it’s possible for us to treat and reverse the causes of tooth loss, but you have to act fast: even the most minor inconveniences could be the beginning of the end for a tooth!
Take Control Of Your Smile Starting Now!
Don’t hesitate to contact our Orlando office for any of your dental care needs. We’re ready to see you! You can request an appointment online or you can schedule one right away by calling us at 407-603-3839. We look forward to seeing you soon!