What Causes Tooth Loss?
The loss of a permanent tooth not only impacts oral health; it can make eating difficult and make patients feel self conscious about their appearance. Restorative dentistry treatments can be used to replace missing teeth, restore dental function, and improve oral health. Although treatments are available to replace missing teeth, preventing tooth loss to begin with is best for oral health. You can help prevent tooth loss by understanding the causes of missing teeth as discussed in this overview from Fountain Valley, CA dentist Andrew G. Mortensen.
What Are the Causes of Missing Teeth?
There are multiple causes of missing teeth. Although most tooth loss is caused by poor oral hygiene, healthy teeth may be lost as a result of injury or trauma. Understanding the causes of missing teeth can help you protect your smile. Possible causes include:
- Gum disease: Caused by plaque and tartar buildup, gum disease is a bacterial infection of the gums, and it can lead to tooth loss. Gum disease is particularly dangerous to oral health when left untreated. As gum disease becomes more severe, pockets will form between the gums and teeth. These pockets allow plaque, bacteria, and food debris to lodge between the gums and teeth, eventually reaching the roots of the teeth, increasing the risk of tooth decay and loss.
- Tooth decay: Tooth decay is caused by plaque and tartar, which consists of bacteria, food remnants, and acid from bacterial digestion. When left on the teeth, the acids within plaque and tartar will begin to erode the teeth, leading to decay. When tooth decay becomes severe, tooth extraction may become necessary.
- Failure to practice good oral hygiene: Skipping regular dental exams, not brushing twice a day, or flossing daily can severely impact oral health, leading to issues like gum disease and tooth decay.
- Teeth grinding: Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, puts great strain on the teeth. If left untreated, teeth grinding can loosen the teeth within the socket, potentially leading to tooth loss. Chronic teeth grinding may also cause damage, like dental fractures or worn down teeth, making tooth extraction necessary.
- Injury or trauma: Tooth loss may occur immediately after an injury or at a later point if trauma is sustained to the underlying structures of the tooth.
Preventing Tooth Loss
Preventing tooth loss is vital to maintaining oral health. In many cases, tooth loss can be prevented with proper dental care. You can help prevent tooth loss by following these tips:
- Practice proper oral hygiene: Tooth decay and gum disease, two of the biggest causes of tooth loss, can be prevented with proper oral hygiene habits. Brush the teeth twice a day for a full two minutes each and floss at least once a day to keep the teeth and gums healthy.
- Schedule regular dental exams and cleanings: Regular dental exams and cleanings are vital to preventing tooth loss because dental exams allow oral health issues to be caught early and cleanings keep the teeth free from plaque and tartar buildup.
- Wear a mouth guard when playing sports: Those who play sports, especially contact sports, are at increased risk of tooth loss. Wearing a mouth guard while playing sports can help protect the teeth from injury or trauma-related tooth loss.
- Seek treatment for teeth grinding: Patients who suffer from teeth grinding should seek treatment to protect the teeth from damage.
Discover Your Treatment Options
When tooth loss does occur, it's important to seek treatment to restore oral health and prevent further damage. Restorative treatments, like dental implants and dental bridges, are available to replace missing teeth and restore dental function. To find out which treatments are right for you, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Mortensen.