Dentistry

Tooth Loss Facts

Tooth Loss Facts GraphicQuiz Question: Which of the following tooth loss facts is true?

  1. A. At least 36 million Americans are missing all of their teeth.
  2. B. The number of people who are missing at least one tooth is increasing.
  3. C. Losing teeth can feel devastating.
  4. D. All of the above 

The answer is: D (All of the above)

Many people in the United States have missing teeth and the number is growing. Losing your teeth can feel devastating! Loss of teeth affects your overall health, appearance and lifestyle. But you can avoid losing your teeth by following a rigorous oral health routine. There are many options for tooth replacement.

Why do people lose their teeth?

Tooth loss can occur because of gum disease, tooth decay, injury or cancer. Tooth loss affects older people and the economically disadvantaged more than any other group.

Dry mouth can be caused by medications or illness and contributes to tooth loss. Tooth decay and infection increase in people who have dry mouth.

How common is tooth loss?

Thirty-six million people in the United States are missing all of their teeth. Because life expectancy is increasing, the number of people with missing teeth is also increasing. At least half of elderly people are missing all of their teeth. One study found that 96% of adults over the age of 65 had tooth decay.

According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, periodontal “gum” disease is the most common cause of tooth loss among adults.

What happens to the person when they lose their teeth?

Losing your teeth can feel overwhelming because it affects many aspects of life such as appearance, physical health, comfort, nutrition, social relationships, confidence level and speech. Tooth loss can even lead to depression and make you feel older.

Bone loss in the jaws occurs when teeth are missing leading to changes in facial structure, and leads to a sunken appearance.

Living without teeth can be embarrassing. Many people try to hide the fact that they have missing teeth. Avoiding embarrassing incidents can be a full time job.

Tooth loss limits food choices. Chewing foods is a challenge and the risk of choking increases. Maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult.

Losing your teeth is no laughing matter but it has often been the brunt of jokes in literature, comic strips, on stage, television, movies, in songs and even in animations.

Some people begin to avoid social situations. They turn down parties, stop dining out in restaurants, avoid eating in public, and cover their mouth when they talk or laugh. Food choices can become limited.

What are the health implications of tooth loss?

Studies indicate that tooth loss and periodontal disease may be related to the risk of oral, esophageal, head and neck, upper gastrointestinal, lung and pancreatic cancer. There is an association between periodontal disease, tooth loss, cancer, cardiovascular disease and preterm birth.

Can people avoid tooth loss?

Yes, you can prevent tooth loss by making healthy diet choices and taking care of your teeth.

Quit Smoking! Smoking is a major risk factor associated with gum diseases that cause inflammation around the teeth. This inflammation affects bone and supporting structures, and can lead to tooth loss.

Protect Your Teeth. While participating in sports, wear a mouth guard. A direct impact to your teeth can fracture or knock them out. If you are prone to clenching or grinding your teeth, discuss the problem with your dentist and consider wearing a night guard.

Practice Thorough Oral Hygiene. Dental plaque causes tooth decay that destroys enamel and inflames gum tissues. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. Visit your dentist every six months for routine oral hygiene care and dental exams. Contact your dentist immediately if you have a dental problem or pain in your teeth.

Make healthy dietary choices. Avoid sugary acidic beverages. Limit candy and sweet snacks.

Dr. Wolfinger says, “A healthy dentition is essential to your psychological and medical well-being.”

What should people do if they have loose or missing teeth?

If you already have missing teeth, there are several tooth replacement options to consider.

Removable dentures are worn by 90% of people who have missing teeth. These prostheses typically cost less than permanent options and can restore appearance and function. Removable dentures can be used for a full or partial arch of missing teeth. Many people are able to adapt and find them to be a comfortable option. Others find them difficult or even unbearable. Over time the shape of the jaw changes and, as a result, removable dentures can become loose and uncomfortable.

A removable denture can be a good temporary option for patients who plan to get dental implants in the future.

A bridge may be an option when some of the teeth are healthy and others are missing. A bridge can be supported by adjoining teeth or by dental implants. Dental bridges are designed to match the shade and proportion of adjacent natural teeth. They eliminate unsightly gaps in the mouth and can improve occlusion. However, over time, a tooth-supported bridge can compromise the strength of supporting teeth.

Dental implants are, by far, the best choice for the replacement of missing teeth. A dental implant is a small man-made titanium fixture that replaces the root of a missing natural tooth. Most dental implants are titanium, which is compatible with our human body. A dental implant is an anchor for the artificial tooth. Dental implants can support a single crown, a partial bridge or an entire arch just like roots hold natural teeth in place. Research has shown that implants are a successful long-term option.

Unlike a tooth supported bridge, dental implants provide additional support where teeth are missing without putting excess force onto remaining natural teeth.

Pi Dental Center has successfully placed over 23,000 dental implants since it opened in 1986. Both Dr. Glenn Wolfinger and Dr. Robert Slauch are board certified prosthodontists. They have advanced skill and training in all types

“Invest your time and money in your mouth to avoid losing your teeth,” Julia, Registered Dental Hygienist at Pi Dental Center states. Contact Pi Dental Center if you have questions about your teeth or would like to schedule an appointment. We look forward to talking to you.



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