A study published by the Centers for Disease Control revealed that approximately two-thirds of adults in the 20 – 39-year-old age group have all of their natural teeth. After the age of 40, this statistic drops by a third. Now, this is a far cry from the days when our ancestors were used to being toothless. The statistics reported today are more related to the loss of one or two teeth, not all teeth in the mouth. Also, today, we’ve got some ways to restore the look and function of the smile if a tooth or teeth are lost. This may be to our benefit, but we must also remember that prevention is the best medicine.
It is possible that you might significantly reduce your risk of losing natural teeth? Can this problem be entirely preventable? In many cases, yes. To reduce risks, though, we’ve got to know what we’re up against.
Common Causes of Tooth Loss
There are several reasons why a person may lose a tooth, including injury. Most cases revolve around one of a few common conditions:
- Periodontal disease. Inflammation of the soft tissue around teeth is one thing. We call this gingivitis. Most people with gingivitis suffer frustrating but relatively minor concerns like chronic bad breath. Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is different. This is an infectious condition that has reached deeper into the connective tissue around the roots of teeth. The presence of bacteria and inflammation in the gums and periodontal ligament degrade tissue, even bone, creating instability around teeth and, if not treated, tooth loss.
- A cavity is a pretty minor problem. When the subtle tooth pain that indicates a cavity is treated, we cheer and call it a god day. Letting this problem go on for any length of time means that dental caries, or oral bacteria, will continually eat away at the enamel, then soft tissue, then nerves and the tooth root. This can cause the tooth to die in the mouth.
- Root canal infection. There are between one and four canals that connect a tooth to the substructure. Each canal contains dental pulp, highly-sensitive and nutrient-dense tissue that support tooth health. Contamination of the pulp needs to be treated properly to prevent death and the need for extraction.
There is a reason the American Dental Association encourages twice-yearly dental visits for people of all ages. The combination of in-office exams and cleanings and good daily care can mean keeping your teeth for life. And, guess what? It’s never too late to start taking excellent care of your smile. We’re here to help you. Call our Grayslake office at (847) 223-5200.