True, missing teeth look bad and can make others perceive you as older or less attractive. Don’t forget, however, that missing permanent teeth also spell disaster for your remaining teeth. Ongoing or severe oral health issues like gum disease and tooth decay and accidental trauma are the leading causes of tooth loss in the United States, but you can take a few simple steps to increase your chances of keeping your teeth for life.
1. Gum Disease
Your gums and connective tissue provide the sturdy yet flexible support your teeth need to endure daily wear and tear. Yet, the more than 50% of Americans living with gum disease are at risk for damaging this tooth support system. Advanced gum disease (often known as periodontal disease) claims more permanent teeth than any other cause and as you age, your risk for the disease increases dramatically. Even worse, untreated gum disease can raise your chances of developing systemic health problems like diabetes and some cardiovascular illnesses.
2. Tooth Decay
Yep, those same cavities your mom warned you about can eat away at your tooth’s structure to the point the tooth breaks off or an extraction is needed. Although tooth decay rates have dropped significantly in the U.S. over the last fifty years (thanks primarily to water fluoridation and better public education), it still hits certain demographics quite hard. For instance, children, the elderly, and low-income families have the highest instances of tooth decay, while Mexican-American children have higher rates of decay than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.
3. Accidental Tooth Loss
You might be one of those truly responsible people who brushes and flosses daily, eats a diet low in sugar, and never smokes, but accidents can happen to anyone, regardless of how much they try to protect their smile. An injury on the playing field, a car collision, or even a fall around the house can claim a permanent tooth in an instant.
How to Fight Tooth Loss
Careful, daily dental hygiene, cutting back on dietary sugar, and avoiding tobacco products are your best bets for avoiding gum disease and tooth decay. Regular six-month checkups with a family dentist will help address emerging problems early and maintain a high level of oral health so permanent tooth loss doesn’t become an issue.
Accidents, unfortunately, cannot always be avoided. However, a few precautionary steps include:
- Always wearing a mouth guard if you play contact or ball sports of any kind.
- Keep staircases and floor space clear of toys, blankets, shoes, or other items that someone can trip and fall on.
- Familiarize yourself with dental first aid so you know how to act effectively in an emergency situation to increase the chances for saving a tooth that has been knocked out.
About Shawn Hofkes, DDS
With advanced training in oral and maxillofacial surgery and certification in oral and IV sedation, Shawn Hofkes, DDS is qualified to provide advanced dentistry services for new and returning patients from our state-of-the-art dentist office in Cerritos, CA. To schedule your appointment or consultation with Dr. Hofkes, contact us today. We proudly serve patients of all ages from Cerritos, Lakewood, Long Beach, Buena Park, and all surrounding communities.