Typically, a baby starts developing teeth around the age of six months. The baby teeth continue to appear during the early stages of life but these teeth are temporary and they fall off during the later years of childhood. These fallen teeth are replaced by the appearance of adult teeth. The adult teeth are permanent and are lost only due to dental decay, injury or gum disease (periodontal disease).
Previously, it was considered that losing teeth is normal in old age. A person who loses teeth is not able to chew food and thus he/she cannot maintain a healthy lifestyle. With advancements in the field of dentistry, various methods are available to replace missing teeth.
What Causes Tooth Loss?
The teeth can be lost due to various reasons. The awareness about these causes can help prevent problems that can lead to tooth loss.
Poor oral hygiene
If proper oral hygiene is not maintained, the resulting dental cavities and gum disease will increase the chance of experiencing tooth loss. To prevent this outcome, dentists recommend brushing the teeth twice a day and flossing once a day. Periodic check-ups and dental cleanings at intervals of six months are also important.
Teeth and gums are damaged by sweet and sugary foods. The sugar and carbohydrates in such foods is converted into acid by the bacteria present inside the mouth. The acid causes damage, decay and cavities in teeth. It is advisable to limit the consumption of such foods.
Some people grind their teeth while sleeping. As a result, the teeth become smaller in size. The condition is known as bruxism. Sometimes, strong grinding can fracture the teeth. Wearing a mouth guard can prevent grinding. Other habits that can promote tooth loss by aggravating gum disease include smoking and tobacco use.
Fracture or loss of teeth can occur due to injuries or falls sustained on the mouth while playing sports. Protecting the teeth with a mouth guard can prevent such problems.
There is a general belief that dental procedures are very expensive. Some of the procedures are costly but on many occasions, cheaper alternative treatment options are also available.
There is a sense of apprehension and fear in the general population about the pain and suffering at a dentist’s clinic. As a result, some people do not consult the dentist, which causes aggravation of the dental problem and eventual tooth loss.
Who is at Risk?
The risk of losing a tooth is equal for everybody but the causes may be different. The elderly are more likely to lose teeth. However, research has shown that about 27 percent of people experience the loss of their first tooth when they are in the third decade (21-30) of life.
Neglected oral hygiene is the main cause of tooth loss in adults. When oral hygiene is poor, it leads to gum disease and eventual tooth loss with the progression of the disease. Gum disease can also aggravate other chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. Loss of teeth is most commonly seen in senior and elderly people. Maintaining good dental and oral hygiene is the most important factor in preventing tooth loss.