Anyone can lose a tooth, for a wide range of potential reasons. Fortunately, oral surgeons can often restore a patient’s smile with dental implants. These false teeth are designed to look and function just like real teeth. They’re custom-made for each patient, so the implants blend in naturally. Best of all, dental implants are long-lasting—with proper care and maintenance, they can essentially serve as permanent replacements for lost teeth.
Of course, while dental implants are an effective option for a lost tooth, most people want to avoid losing teeth in the first place. That’s why it helps to learn about some of the more common causes of tooth loss (i.e., you’re more likely to prevent it when you know what risks your teeth might face). These risks include the following:
Decay and Gum Disease
Staying on top of oral hygiene and scheduling cleanings with your dentist every six months are crucial steps to preserving your smile. When you eat sweet foods, some of the sugar gets left behind on your teeth and oral surfaces. If you don’t clean it away, the sugar will attract bacteria that eat away at your dental tissue. Eventually, a tooth can decay to such a point that a dentist will recommend extracting it.
The same bacteria that eat away at teeth can also cause gum tissue to deteriorate. If left untreated, the gums can start to recede, eventually reaching a point where they can no longer hold the teeth in place.
Luckily, these are easy problems to avoid. By brushing and flossing every day and taking regular trips to see your dentist, you’re very likely to prevent major decay that results in tooth loss.
Sudden trauma can cause a tooth to get knocked out of its socket. This typically occurs during an accident or sports injury.
If you lose a tooth this way but can safely make it to an emergency dentist, keep the tooth in a cup or plastic bag with some milk and schedule an appointment right away. There are some instances in which an emergency dentist can save the tooth. You may not need an implant if you get treated in a timely manner.
In the meantime, take steps to protect your teeth in situations where you may sustain an injury. For example, if you play any contact sports, ask your dentist or oral surgeon to recommend a strong mouthguard. Wear it whenever you’re playing.
Poor Nutrition or Immune System Disorders
Your body needs to be healthy to keep your teeth healthy. Poor nutrition can make it difficult for your body to fight off bacteria, resulting in a greater chance of severe dental decay. Additionally, without the right nutrients, bone density depletes. This affects the strength of your teeth. That’s why it’s important to maintain a balanced diet.
However, some people have immune system disorders that prevent their bodies from fighting off dental decay effectively. If you’ve been diagnosed with this type of condition, work closely with your dentist to ensure you’ve taken all necessary steps to protect your teeth.
According to one study, smokers are approximately twice as likely as non-smokers to experience tooth loss during their lifetimes. Chewing tobacco can also contribute to a greater likelihood of tooth loss. Specifically, these habits have been known to reduce the body’s ability to fight off infections of the gums. Again, severe gum disease can result in the loss of teeth, especially if it isn’t treated early.
While it can be very difficult to quit smoking or chewing tobacco, doing so is critically important to your health. You’ll greatly boost your odds of keeping all your teeth throughout life if you manage to break away from these habits.
Bruxism refers to a condition in which a person is constantly clenching their jaw or grinding their teeth, often during sleep. It can also be a side effect of stress or an undiagnosed dental misalignment. As such, many people don’t know they have bruxism. That’s just one more reason to see a dental specialist regularly. If they identify signs of bruxism, they can equip you with a mouthguard to wear during sleep, protecting your teeth. If they identify signs of a misalignment, an oral surgeon may be able to correct it.
Severe cases of bruxism can lead to tooth loss as a result of a fracture or other major forms of damage. If your dentist recommends a mouthguard or other protective measures, heed their advice.
While dental implants can restore your smile in the case of lost teeth, if you take proper steps, you may not lose teeth in the first place. By keeping these points in mind and coordinating with dental professionals, you can keep your smile for life!