In many cases, adult tooth loss can be prevented. This is because most oral health issues that cause tooth loss can be prevented with proper dental care and oral hygiene. Undergoing routine dental exams, along with understanding the causes of tooth loss, make it easier to prevent tooth loss. In addition, restorative dentistry treatments can benefit those who suffer from tooth loss and dental damage by replacing missing teeth and restoring oral health. To learn more about your treatment options and the causes of tooth loss, schedule a consultation with Staten Island, NY dentists Alex Hecht and Jason Hecht.
The Causes of Tooth Loss
The loss of an adult tooth can occur for a number of reasons, most of which are due to oral health problems. Being aware of the most common causes of tooth loss is a key way to prevent it and protect your oral health. The common causes of tooth loss include:
- Tooth decay: When plaque, bacteria, and acids from foods and drinks are regularly left on the teeth, the protective outer layer of the teeth, the enamel, becomes damaged, leading to tooth decay and cavities. If tooth decay is left untreated, bacterial acids will create holes in the teeth, eventually reaching and infecting the nerves and tissues that nourish the teeth. Once these tissues become infected, known as a root canal infection, the tooth may die and fall out or require extraction to restore oral health.
- Gum disease: Bacteria within plaque may also infect the gums, resulting in gum disease. When gum disease occurs, the gums may become inflamed and recede from the teeth. Pockets may also form as a result of plaque and tartar collecting between the teeth and gum line. Pockets allow plaque and bacteria to reach the structures below the gum line, like the tooth roots and jawbone, often resulting in decay at the roots, infection of the jawbone, and tooth loss.
- Overall poor oral hygiene: Poor oral hygiene increases the risk of gum disease and tooth decay, both of which can lead to tooth loss. Not brushing or flossing, or only doing so occasionally, allows plaque, bacteria, and acids to destroy oral health.
- Accident or sports-related injury: Sometimes tooth loss occurs in well cared for teeth as a result of an accident or injury. Falling, a car accident, or getting hit in the mouth by sports equipment can all cause tooth loss.
- Root trauma: In some cases, an injury sustained to the face or mouth may not instantly cause tooth loss but instead tooth loss may occur weeks or months later. Delayed tooth loss may occur after an injury when root trauma is present.
Can Tooth Loss Be Prevented?
In many cases, tooth loss can be prevented with good oral hygiene habits. Some ways to prevent tooth loss include:
- Brushing and flossing regularly: Brushing and flossing greatly reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay, two of the leading causes of tooth loss. Brush at least twice a day for a full two minutes and floss at least once a day along each side of each tooth to keep the smile healthy.
- Seeing your dentist every six months: In addition to daily at-home dental care, it's important to see your dentist at least every six months for a regular checkup and cleaning. Regular checkups allow decay, gum disease, or other oral health issues to be detected early, when they're most easily treated and before damage becomes severe. Professional cleanings are also important because they prevent plaque and tartar buildup where brushing and flossing can miss.
- Avoiding sugary, acidic foods and drinks: Sugary, acidic foods and drinks can damage the enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay. Limiting or avoiding these foods altogether can help protect the teeth from decay.
- Use a mouth guard when playing sports: Wearing a mouth guard while playing sports can help prevent tooth loss from sports-related injuries.
Seek Treatment Today
Don't let dental damage or tooth loss go untreated. To discover your treatment options, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Drs. Hecht and Hecht.