Losing teeth is no fun, but it’s a fact for many people. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, 69% of adults ages 35 to 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth. And by age 74, 26% of adults have lost all their permanent teeth.
Various things can cause tooth loss, including decay, gum disease, injury, and wear and tear. It’s a dental health condition that can significantly affect your quality of life. But there’s no need to despair. There are many options available to help you restore your smile.
Causes of tooth loss
Tooth loss is a problem that affects people of all ages. In fact, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, more than 178 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. And while there are several reasons teeth may fall out or need to be removed, there are three leading causes of tooth loss: periodontal disease, tooth decay, and injury. Here’s a closer look at each one.
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection of the gums that can eventually lead to tooth loss. This condition is caused by plaque—a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth—that isn’t removed through regular brushing and flossing. Periodontal disease can destroy the gums and bones that support teeth if not treated, causing them to loosen and eventually fall out.
Tooth decay is another common cause of tooth loss. This condition develops when plaque buildup leads to cavities in teeth. If left untreated, cavities can become more extensive and eventually reach the tooth’s root, causing pain and infection. Severe tooth decay can lead to abscesses, which are pus-filled pockets that form around the tooth’s root, resulting in tooth loss.
Although not as common as periodontal disease or tooth decay, injuries can also lead to tooth loss. These injuries can be caused by accidents like falling or being hit in the mouth with a hard object and by participating in contact sports without wearing a mouthguard. Wearing a mouthguard when playing sports is one of the best ways to protect your teeth from being fractured or knocked out entirely. Accidents happen, though, so you must see your dentist immediately if you have injured your teeth.
Tooth loss solutions
If you’ve lost teeth, several solutions can help restore your smile. Here are a few of the best options for tooth loss, depending on your needs and preferences.
Dental Implants: The Top Solution for Tooth Loss?
Dental implants are likely your best bet if you’re looking for a solution that will give you the closest thing to natural teeth. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root placed into your jawbone to support a replacement tooth. Once the implant heals and fuses to your bone, which can take several months, your dentist will place a connector called an abutment on the implant. Dental implants can replace single, multiple, or complete teeth. For instance, an all-on-4 dental implant solution can give you a complete set of replacement teeth. This is the best solution for tooth loss if you want to feel confident about your smile and have the flexibility to eat whatever you want.
Dental implants look like teeth, and proper care can last a lifetime. They also don’t require reducing other teeth as bridges do because surrounding teeth aren’t used for support. However, dental implants are more costly than other options and require surgery. In addition, if you have health problems or take certain medications that affect bone healing or increase the risk of infection, dental implants might not be suitable for you.
Removable Partial Dentures: A More Affordable Option
If cost is a concern or you’re not a good candidate for dental implants, then a removable partial denture (RPD) might be suitable. An RPD is a substitute for missing teeth that consists of false teeth that are either pink or gum-colored in color, affixed to plastic bases that fit into the mouth like a puzzle piece. These false teeth are supported by a metal framework that attaches to existing teeth with clasps or precisely fits into remaining ridges of gums—giving denture wearers extra support and stability.
RPDs are removable, so they can be taken out and cleaned regularly. They’re also more affordable than other options and can be made quickly; however, they don’t look as natural as dental implants or fixed bridges. They require extra care to keep clean because food can become trapped under them.
The bottom line
There are many solutions available if you’ve lost teeth due to injury, decay, gum disease, or wear and tear. Dental implants are considered the best solution because they look and feel like natural teeth; however, they’re also the most expensive option and require surgery. Removable partial dentures are more affordable and can be made quickly; however, they’re not as natural-looking as dental implants or fixed bridges. Talk to your dentist about which solution is right for you based on your needs and preferences.