Unlike childhood, where losing a tooth was almost like a rite of passage, losing teeth in adulthood is hardly something to be excited about. In fact, for many patients, losing teeth is distressing and traumatic. Patients with missing teeth often feel self conscious and embarrassed by their smiles. The physiological effects of tooth loss include the diminished ability to speak properly and masticate (chew) food. Contrary to popular belief, tooth loss is not a natural part of the aging process; your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Dr. Ann Kania discusses the causes of tooth loss below.
Periodontitis (advanced gum disease) is the number one cause of tooth loss in adulthood. Gum disease infects and inflames the gum tissue. As the infection and inflammation worsens, the natural bond between your teeth and gum tissue is separated. Over time, your teeth become loose without the support of neighboring gum tissue. Tartar buildup filled with bacteria attaches to the roots of teeth as well. Preventing periodontal disease is important for keeping your teeth for a lifetime. For patients who currently have gum disease, we strongly encourage that they manage their illness with professional treatment and meticulous oral hygiene at home.
Traumatic Injuries to the Teeth
Traumatic injuries are another cause of tooth loss. Injuries may chip, crack, dislodge, or knock teeth out of the mouth. Powerful blunt force from a nasty fall or contact sports often results in traumatic tooth injury.
Tooth root resorption can be internal, external or both. Resorption is a phenomenon in which tooth structure is disolved. Some or all of the tooth’s root may be lost if the body absorbs this mineral tissue. It is not believed to be infectious. It may be auto-immune in origin. Often tooth resorption is detected some time after trauma to the site.
When the vulnerable interior structures of teeth are affected by decay, it may result in tooth loss. If a severly infected tooth cannot be addressed by root canal therapy, a dentist may have to extract the tooth. For example, if bacteria enters the pulp chamber and infects the nerve or pulp, the tooth may die.
To prevent tooth loss in adulthood, Dr. Kania encourages patients to take charge of their oral health by visiting our Encinitas periodontist office for routine examinations and professional cleanings. Remember to brush your teeth thoroughly at least twice a day and floss daily. If you currently suffer from tooth loss, Dr. Kania can determine if you are a candidate for dental implants—a permanent replacement for missing teeth.
To schedule an appointment at our Encinitas periodontist office, contact us at (760) 642-0711. We serve patients from Del Mar, San Marcos, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, and the surrounding communities near San Diego.