People lose things—car keys, cell phones and, yes, even teeth. Missing teeth can take the shine out of any smile but their effects aren’t only aesthetic in nature—they can also increase your chances of heart disease.
Fortunately, modern dentistry offers many replacement options for missing teeth.
Common Causes of Missing Teeth
Unlike socks in the dryer, teeth don’t simply go missing without an explanation. While there are many reasons why someone might lose their natural teeth, these are generally the most common causes.
1. Tooth Decay
One of the most common causes of tooth loss is regular tooth decay brought on by poor dental care and oral hygiene. Brushing and flossing your teeth twice every day removes much of the plaque that causes tooth decay—it also reduces your chances of developing gum disease. Don’t just brush and floss because your dentist says so—do it for your smile.
2. Bad Habits
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that our eating, drinking and smoking habits have a large impact on our oral health and hygiene. In particular, smoking tobacco products and drinking alcohol reduces blood flow to your gums and increases your chances of developing periodontal disease. The bad news for chain smokers and binge drinkers doesn’t just end there, however. Smoking and drinking drastically increase your chances of tooth loss. According to the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 43% of adults aged 65 or older who have lost all of their natural teeth are smokers.
As we age, our chances of developing periodontal disease increase drastically, likely as a result of decreased blood flow and generally declining oral health. The CDC estimates that nearly half (47.2%) of adults aged 30 and over have some form of gum disease. That number increases to 70.1% for adults aged 65 and over. Tooth loss from age isn’t inevitable. You can reduce your chances of developing gum disease and losing your perfect 32-teeth smile by exercising to improve blood flow and staying on top of your dental care routine.
Genes such as beta-defensin 1 impact our oral and dental health in various ways. Some genes increase our chances of developing periodontal disease while others can contribute to the formation of dental malocclusions such as overbites and underbites. These and other conditions such as cleft palates can increase the risk of tooth loss later on in life.
One of the most common—and painful—causes of tooth loss is injury. Believe us, those NHL players didn’t use a marker to black out their teeth. Knocking a tooth loose can be quite traumatic and painful, but frequently avoidable. When playing sports, mouthguards and helmets drastically reduce your chances of dental injury—not to mention, they make you look like a professional. Even a cracked or chipped tooth, if left untreated, will likely result in tooth loss so be sure to use protective equipment. If all else fails, make sure that your dentist offers emergency care—accidents do happen.
Common Dangers of Missing Teeth
There are more dangers to a missing tooth than some awkward family photos. Missing teeth can cause any number of knock-on conditions, some more serious than others.
1. Bone Loss
One of the more concerning side effects of a missing tooth is bone loss. Once a permanent tooth falls out, the jaw bone in that area of the mouth will begin to deteriorate from a lack of exercise and nervous system feedback. Your body will slowly absorb the calcium from that area and distribute it elsewhere, weakening your jaw bone overall.
2. Crooked Teeth
Our teeth depend on one another for support. When one tooth falls out, the surrounding teeth will begin to “lean” into the unoccupied space in your mouth. Crooked teeth can cause pain and discomfort—and, yes, dampen your smile.
3. Further Tooth Loss
Similar to crooked teeth, when one tooth goes missing the surrounding teeth lose support and become weaker. Unsupported teeth are more susceptible to injury, even from seemingly harmless sources such as hard foods.
4. Altered Speech
Missing teeth can alter the shape of your mouth and your ability to make certain sounds. Depending on the teeth that are missing, slurring, whistling and lisping are all potential speech impediments you may experience.
5. Overall Health
Your oral health and hygiene have an impact on your overall health. Missing teeth can lead to a deterioration in your oral health and, ultimately, worsen existing conditions. For example, scientists have linked diabetes and heart disease to oral health though the exact relationship isn’t known.
Common Treatments for Missing Teeth
No one with a toothless smile has to stay that way for long. Modern dentistry offers many treatment options to replace missing teeth.
1. Dental Implants
Dental implants are prostheses that function, for all intents and purposes, like the natural teeth they replace.
2. Dental Bridges
Similar to dental implants, dental bridges are prostheses that dentists will use to replace more than one missing tooth.
3. False Teeth
For those who are less comfortable with surgical procedures, false teeth options such as removable partial dentures can restore your smile and safeguard against the negative impacts of missing teeth.
Find a Dentist Near You to Find Your Missing Teeth
A missing tooth—or two or three—doesn’t have to prevent you from smiling as widely as you can. At Dawson Dental Hanover, we offer a wide range of restorative services to ensure that your smile is as bright as yours. Our dental office is located in the heart of Hanover, Ontario to serve you better. Contact us today to book your next appointment—we can help you find the confidence you may have lost with that tooth.