The unavoidable truth is that tooth loss is one of the most devastating things that can happen to your smile. Losing teeth, however, isn’t necessarily unavoidable; in fact, it’s highly-avoidable in most instances. Adult teeth are frequently referred to as permanent teeth because they were meant to last for life; yet adult tooth loss remains a significant issue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 30% of the world’s population over the age of 65 has lost all of their natural teeth. While tooth loss typically affects older patients, it isn’t a consequence of aging; rather, it’s most-often the culmination of one or more advanced dental diseases.
More than One Way to Lose a Tooth
If it isn’t natural, then how does tooth loss occur? In a number of ways, depending on each patient’s specific case. The most common reason for permanent tooth loss is gum disease, which develops when oral bacteria work their way between your gums and the roots of your teeth. The infection, known as gingivitis, causes excessive gum inflammation and recession. If left alone, gingivitis will become advanced gum disease, and in its most severe form (periodontitis), the infection can destroy the gums and underlying jawbone that support your teeth.
Besides aggressive gum disease, patients may also lose one or more permanent teeth to;
- Severe cavities—as a cavity, or hole, spreads through a decaying tooth, it irreversibly consumes the tooth’s healthy structure. Cavities are often caught and treated (with a dental filling or root canal treatment) before the tooth is lost, but if ignored long enough, the infection can kill the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels.
- Accidental trauma—dental diseases are common, but they aren’t the only reasons people lose teeth. For instance, a traumatic injury can damage the bone and ligaments that hold your tooth in place, making it too loose to remain in its socket.
Is Tooth Loss Preventable?
Because dental diseases are the most common reasons for tooth loss, and most dental diseases are preventable with good hygiene and professional dental care, tooth loss is largely preventable, as well. Brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day will help you control the buildup of oral bacteria, the main contributor to dental plaque, and reduce your risk of cavities and gum disease. If you attend a dental checkup and cleaning at least once every six months, then Dr. Fondriest can carefully inspect your teeth and gums to treat any present issues before they advance and cost you one or more teeth.
The Science of Tooth Replacement
Besides the visible gap in your smile, you may wonder why missing teeth are such a big deal. When your mouth is full of teeth, each tooth supports those next to it as they absorb the pressure from your bite. If you lose one or more of them, then replacing your missing teeth can help restore your bite’s balance, as well its cosmetic appearance. Dental bridges and dentures can be custom-crafted to fit along your dental ridge, filling the empty spaces in your smile by replacing the visible portions of your teeth, called the crowns.
How are Dental Implants Different?
Dental implants stand apart from other, more conventional teeth replacements in several aspects. Rather than replacing the crowns of your missing teeth, implants are surgically inserted into your jawbone to replace the roots that supported them. A dental implant is made from biocompatible titanium, and as your jawbone heals, it fuses to the implant’s surface (osseointegration) to create an anatomical support system for your prosthetic teeth. While your crown, bridge, or denture restores your ability to bite and chew, your supportive dental implant(s) provide the stability that your healthy teeth enjoy while situated on their healthy roots.
About Your Lake Forest Dentist:
Aside from providing expert family, general, and restorative dentistry services to our community, Dr. James Fondriest also holds highly-respected academic appointments at the Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, FL, and the Spear Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, and he is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Prosthodontics at the University of Florida Dental School. Dr. Fondriest combines his impressive array of experience with modern technology and caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable staff, and we proudly serve the Chicago metropolitan area including the North Shore and Northwest suburbs. To schedule your consultation, call our office today at (847) 234-0517.