Adult Tooth Loss is Common: Here’s How You Can Avoid It

Unfortunately, tooth loss is a common occurrence for adults. The good news is there are things you can do to help keep your teeth in place. Read on to learn why tooth loss occurs and what you can do to stop it.

Many people would be surprised to learn that the leading cause of tooth loss isn’t accidents or tooth decay. Instead, it’s periodontal (gum) disease.

As a matter of fact, a whopping 46% of adults over age 30 show signs of early stage gum disease (gingivitis), and another 9% develop severe gum disease (periodontitis) before they reach age 40.

At Image Dental in Stockton, California, our providers offer general dentistry services that can prevent dental problems from occurring and treat them if they do. In this blog, our providers explain more about why tooth loss occurs and how you can help stop it in its tracks.

Gum disease and tooth loss

As mentioned, the biggest cause of tooth loss is gum disease. And, gum disease is caused by a buildup of plaque, which is made of bacteria. When you eat, if the particles of food left behind aren’t removed, the bacteria can feed on them and cause plaque to grow.

With early stage gum disease, or gingivitis, your gums might be tender and bleed when brushing. You might also see tartar buildup as a thin yellowish path along the gumline.

Untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which can cause tooth loss. With periodontitis, the bacteria grow under the gumline and cause the diseased gum tissue to slowly pull away from the teeth, creating pockets for even more bacteria.

Eventually, the bone under your teeth can start to deteriorate, which can allow teeth to slowly loosen and fall out. Once a single tooth falls out, the teeth on either side can begin to loosen and fall out, which can continue until you’re toothless.

Contributors to gum disease

There are many factors that can contribute to the development of gum disease and tooth loss, including:

  • Not brushing and flossing regularly
  • Skipping dental cleanings, which can allow bacteria to build up below the gumline
  • Smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Taking certain medications that reduce the amount of saliva
  • Hormonal changes

If you develop periodontal disease, it may not just affect your oral health. It may affect your general health as well. In fact, studies have found links between gum disease and an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and stroke

Preventing tooth loss

To prevent tooth loss, you should have a good at-home dental hygiene routine. This means you should brush your teeth and floss at least twice a day. You should also have your teeth professionally examined and cleaned twice a year.

By having them examined regularly by a professional, your provider can spot signs of a problem and treat the issue before it becomes serious. Furthermore, your provider can guide you on adjusting your hygiene routine if something is amiss. 

You can also make lifestyle changes, such as:

  • Quitting smoking or chewing tobacco
  • Chewing sugar-free gum to increase saliva production
  • Staying hydrated
  • Keeping a water bottle with you so you can rinse your mouth regularly

If you think you may have gum disease, or if you need any other dental care, we can give you the help you need. To learn more, call 209-392-5688 or book an appointment online with Image Dental today.

Stephen Nozaki, DDS, MPH, DIDIA

Dr. Stephen Nozaki is the owner and lead dentist at Image Dental in Stockton. He is a dedicated professional born and raised in California's Central Valley. With a commitment to his community, he brings advanced dental techniques learned from extensive education and continuous training from around the world. A third-generation Japanese American, Dr. Nozaki has a rich background that includes international living and a deep passion for both dentistry and outdoor activities. His focus in dentistry aligns with his passion for cosmetics and dental implants.