Tooth loss is a common problem that causes the teeth to shift in the mouth, which can result in functional issues. Aging is not the only cause of tooth loss in adults.
Tooth loss can happen for several reasons. A real understanding of the causes can help people to pay special attention to problem areas and, by extension, prevent tooth loss.
- Poor eating habits
- Poor oral hygiene
- Harmful behaviours for teeth
Poor eating habits
Good oral health starts with a balanced diet. Eating foods that are harmful to teeth can promote cavities and lead to tooth loss.
Diet plays a major role in the development of cavities. In fact, what you eat can lead to tooth decay. When you consume sweets, the bacteria found in plaque mixes with the sugar to produce an acid that attacks tooth enamel. If the cavity is not repaired, it could worsen, eventually leading to tooth loss.
Poor oral hygiene
To prevent the bacteria from spreading, it is important to disrupt the plaque harbouring the bacteria by carefully brushing your teeth at least twice a day and by flossing daily. Not only are the bacteria in plaque responsible for cavities, but they also cause gum disease. In the long term, cavities and gum disease can lead to the loss of one or more teeth.
It’s very important to see your dental hygienist and dentist at least once a year, even if you don’t have a toothache or you think your oral health is just fine.
The length of time between an examination and a dental cleaning appointment can vary depending on a person’s susceptibility to cavities or tartar build-up, age, the presence of periodontal disease (periodontitis) or other risk factors like smoking.
Harmful behaviours for teeth
Grinding teeth (bruxism), drinking excessive amounts of energy drinks, smoking, chewing ice, piercing the lip or tongue, and opening things with your teeth are all behaviours that can be harmful to your teeth and possibly lead to tooth loss.
Teeth run the risk of being damaged during certain contact sports like hockey and football. While custom mouth guards are extremely common in professional sports, you don’t need to be a pro athlete to use one. A mouth guard is recommended for anyone who plays a sport that entails the risk of falls or blows—for example, hockey, martial arts, cycling, boxing, rollerblading, skiing or soccer.
Unlike commercially available prefabricated mouth guards, the custom mouth guard is designed by oral health professionals and made based on a dental impression. It optimizes comfort and breathing, is more apt to stay in place and has no adverse effects on performance.
In addition to protecting the teeth from injury, the custom mouth guard:
- reduces the risk of concussion;
- decreases the number, severity and risk of fractures to the jaw and teeth;
- reduces injuries to the neck and the mucous membranes of the mouth.
Above all, it safeguards your smile!
Consequences of losing one or more teeth
When one or more teeth are missing, time is the enemy, in that if the situation is left untreated, the adjacent teeth gradually shift in an attempt to close the gap. These natural movements cause a series of problems that aggravate the initial situation. The shifting teeth create new spaces between other teeth, where food can get caught and build up. These spaces become difficult to maintain and are susceptible to penetration by cavity-causing bacteria and to gum disease, which over the long term can lead to bone loss.
What’s more, the antagonist (the tooth in the opposing jaw) starts to separate from its socket in an attempt to search for its former point of contact. The gum around this tooth recedes, often causing it greater sensitivity due to exposure of part of the root, as well as a loss of sturdiness. This phenomenon generally continues until the tooth finds another point of contact or falls out.
Chewing with fewer teeth increases the workload of the remaining teeth and can lead to premature wear. The loss of bone structure, both in the mouth and the face, is another consideration, and sagging of the facial support tissues is a sign of premature aging.
Thankfully, solutions exist for the replacement of missing teeth. These include implants, bridges and dentures. These solutions help to restore an aesthetically pleasing and functional smile, giving the face back a more youthful appearance.
All of these treatments require an in-depth prior assessment by qualified professionals.
A Global Dental Consultation is the perfect opportunity for a complete, detailed analysis of your smile and to discuss the various solutions available to you.