Common Causes of Tooth Loss and How to Restore Your Smile
Even one missing tooth can take a tremendous toll on your ability to chew and speak normally. For many, the confidence issues that come with an incomplete smile trump any of the functional concerns.
Tooth loss is an extremely common issue for people of all ages, but not everyone who has lost teeth understands exactly what led to their concerns. As the dentists well versed in implant dentistry and prosthodontics at Premier Dental & Implant Center in Orland Park, IL, I see patients who are missing teeth every day. I’m here now to address some common concerns that many patients have, including the most common causes of tooth loss and what can be done to restore a smile. Take a look:
4 Common Causes of Tooth Loss
Your teeth are part of a complex system that involves your jawbone, tongue, gums, and other oral structures. When any one part of that system is affected, it can carry consequences for the others.
1. Gum Disease
Gum disease is the number-one cause of tooth loss around the world. Along with your jawbone, your gums hold your teeth in place. When the gums are unhealthy, they weaken and recede from the teeth, which makes them vulnerable to falling out. Catching gum disease in its early stages (known as gingivitis) can help you prevent tooth loss and a host of other oral health issues.
2. Tooth Decay
When left untreated, cavities leave your teeth prone to breakage or falling out altogether. They cause damage by eating away at deeper and deeper layers of the teeth. At a certain point, a decayed tooth will become so structurally compromised that it is no longer viable. During regular exams, your dentist can catch hard-to-spot signs of decay early. Attending checkups is crucial for your oral health.
Accidents happen. If one of your teeth is knocked out, put it firmly back in the socket (if possible) or a glass of milk and contact a dentist as soon as possible. Our Orland Park, IL, practice offers emergency dental care through a 24/7 online appointment system. Reach out to our team soon enough and there’s a good chance we can re-implant a dislodged tooth.
4. Existing Tooth Loss
If you have been missing a tooth or teeth for a while, it actually leaves your remaining teeth more vulnerable to falling out. Your tooth roots have a symbiotic relationship with your jawbone—the jaw holds the teeth in place, and the roots stimulate the jaw to keep it healthy and strong. When tooth roots are missing, the underlying bone begins to atrophy, and it can weaken to a degree where neighboring teeth are at risk of falling out. Seeking treatment for lost teeth early is an important part of preserving the rest of your smile.
How Many People Are Missing Teeth?
If you are missing teeth, you’re far from alone. The American College of Prosthodontists reports that approximately 178 million Americans have at least one missing tooth. About 40 million are dealing with complete tooth loss.
Per the CDC, 26% of people 65 and older have 8 or fewer teeth left, and about 17% of the age group are missing all their teeth.
It’s clear that tooth loss is a widespread concern for Americans, and American senior citizens in particular. However, no one has to live without a full set of teeth forever.
Top Tooth Loss Treatments
Modern dentistry offers a host of tooth replacement solutions. These are some of the most popular options.
Dental Bridges and Dentures
A bridge can replace up to four missing teeth in a row by anchoring onto the two teeth on either side of the gap. Dentures rest on the gums and can also treat localized tooth loss or replace an entire arch, depending on whether they are partial or full dentures.
These options are great for many patients, but they do have some drawbacks, namely the fact that they only replace the teeth above the gumline. This means that while you wear them, your jawbone will continue to weaken, inviting additional oral health problems. If you want the most permanent and reliable solution for tooth loss, you want dental implants.
Dental implants are small “posts” typically made of titanium or zirconia. They are surgically embedded in the jawbone in the place of the missing tooth roots and mimic their jaw-stimulating function. Because they are anchored in bone, they provide a level of stability for crowns, bridges, or dentures that traditional removable prosthetics simply cannot achieve.
Choosing an implant-supported restoration rather than a removable restoration comes with the benefits of a smile that’s always complete, no embarrassing slippage while eating or speaking, and decades of durability. While the implant-supported restoration will eventually need to be replaced, the implants themselves can last you a lifetime.
Unsure About Implants? Whatever the Reason, We Can Help
Many of our Chicagoland patients who are interested in dental implants aren’t certain whether it’s the right treatment for them after hearing that there are candidacy requirements, but you can rest assured that these factors are more so opportunities to improve oral health than to exclude patients from treatment.
Our Orland Park practice offers effective workarounds to virtually any dental implant candidacy concern, including:
- Poor Oral Health: A healthy mouth is the very best foundation for dental implants. If you’re struggling with an issue like tooth decay or gum disease that would otherwise disqualify you from treatment, visit our Orland Park team. Gentle cleanings and periodontal care can get your oral health back on track.
- Low Jawbone Density: You must have a certain amount of jawbone tissue intact to serve as a stable base for implants. If you have been missing teeth for a while, your tissue may be seriously weakened. However, procedures like bone grafts and sinus lifts can replenish lost tissue and strengthen the area to improve your implant candidacy. Alternative implant placement methods, like All-on-4® and All-on-6®, can also be used for patients with low bone density.
- Fear of Pain: Dental implant placement is surgery, so it’s natural to feel nervous about pain. Still, you should know that the procedure isn’t actually much more uncomfortable than having a tooth extracted professionally. We also make calming sedation available to anyone who needs a little extra peace of mind during treatment. Oral conscious or IV sedation can ensure your experience is virtually pain-free.
Don’t Let Tooth Loss Be an Untreated Issue
Request a Consultation
No matter the reason for your tooth loss, you have a path back to a fully functional smile, and we’d like to help you along it. Request a dental consultation in Orland Park, IL, to get started. We can discuss the pros and cons of various tooth replacement options to find the one that’s best for your unique needs. Contact us online or give us a call today.
About Yamen Akhras, DDS
Dr. Yamen Akhras completed training in dental implants from the Misch Institute and the Urban Regeneration Institute. He specializes in treating gum disease, placing implants, and bone and gum grafting.