The American College of Prosthodontists reports that approximately 178 million people in the United States have at least one missing permanent tooth. Adult tooth loss in the United States is a serious problem that current research has connected to general health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, malnutrition, and psychological issues. The risk factors for adult tooth loss are wide ranging and include everything from age (people over 65 are at particular risk), gender, ethnicity, and even income. Read more about the top causes of tooth loss so you can take steps to protect your teeth and gums and keep your smile healthy and whole for life.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly half of all Americans have gum disease and it’s the leading cause of adult tooth loss. Gum disease starts as an overabundance of oral bacteria in the mouth (especially along the gum line). As the bacteria digest sugar and carbohydrates in the mouth, they digest it into an acidic by-product that irritates the gum tissue. If left untreated, the irritation becomes an infection. When the body senses the infection, it begins to kill off the gum and connective tissue, resulting in loosened teeth that eventually fall out or have to be removed. Good oral hygiene habits, including brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day, is the best way to prevent gum disease.
No surprises here! There’s a reason your mother was always nagging you to brush your teeth! In its early stages, tooth decay can be treated with a simple filling. However, if it’s not caught early enough, it can descend into the interior layers of the tooth, leading to extreme tooth pain and sensitivity. If a severe cavity can’t be treated through root canal therapy, the tooth will have to be removed. As with gum disease, good dental hygiene and regular visits to the dentist are your best bets for avoiding tooth loss from tooth decay.
Sports injuries and vehicular accidents round out the top three causes of adult tooth loss.