Tooth Loss In Adulthood: How It Occurs And What To Do

Posted on:

October 1, 2021

Tooth loss in adults is more common than most people think. The leading causes of tooth loss in adults are disease, trauma, or aging. It is also possible to lose teeth due to bad oral hygiene. Tooth loss in adults is no minor issue. Loss of teeth can cause a lot of problems with eating and speaking. The gaps in the mouth left by the missing teeth can cause the remaining teeth to shift and become misaligned. It can also cause sagging in the face. In worst cases, tooth loss can lead to gum disease and bone loss.

Tooth Loss In Adulthood: How It Occurs And What To Do

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Causes Of Tooth Loss In Adults

  • Tooth Decay: Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria in the mouth destroy the enamel of the teeth. If teeth are not cleaned properly, the sugar and starch left on the teeth form plaque. Plaque attacks the teeth, causing tooth decay. Cavities are tiny holes or pits formed on the teeth during the later stages of tooth decay. If cavities and tooth decay are not treated as soon as possible, the decay will spread and in extreme cases may lead to the loss of the affected tooth. Tooth decay can happen to anyone regardless of age. It is necessary to prevent tooth decay and cavities by maintaining good oral hygiene and regularly visiting the dentist.
  • Gum Disease: Gum disease, also known as periodontitis, is a very serious disease and one of the most common causes of tooth loss in adults. If left untreated, periodontitis can destroy the bone that supports the teeth, leading to loose teeth or tooth loss. Similar to tooth decay, gum disease is caused when plaque hardens under the gumline into tartar. It is essential to treat gum disease as early as possible to prevent major damage.
  • Physical Injuries: Life is unpredictable and accidents can happen at any time. Some incidents like auto accidents, serious falls, or sports-related injuries can lead to trauma to the face and teeth. This can cause the teeth to get loose or fall out. If you have suffered dental trauma, it’s necessary to seek help immediately.
  • Certain Diseases: A lot of people are not aware of the close link between our physical health and dental health. While periodontitis is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, physical ailments like arthritis, diabetes, and hypertension can affect oral health and lead to tooth loss in adults. That is why it is important to take care of physical health alongside oral health.

Along with the above causes, there are also a few factors that increase the risk of tooth loss in adults. Some of these factors are poor diet and nutrition, and behaviors like smoking, chewing tobacco, not brushing teeth daily, etc. It is essential to maintain a healthy lifestyle with good oral habits to reduce the risk of tooth loss in adults.

How To Prevent Tooth Loss

Now you may be wondering how to prevent tooth loss. It may not always be possible to fully prevent tooth loss, but it is possible to reduce the risk of tooth loss. Here are a few things you can do to protect your teeth and prevent tooth loss:

  • Maintain oral hygiene by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and using mouthwash once a day.
  • Avoid bad habits like smoking or chewing tobacco.
  • Wear a properly fitted mouthguard while playing sports.
  • Wear a night guard while sleeping to prevent teeth grinding or sleep bruxism.
  • Regularly visit the dentist for checkups.

The above tips are good oral care habits that can help prevent tooth loss in adults.

What To Do When You Lose A Tooth?

Tooth loss in adults cannot always be prevented, especially in case of unexpected accidents or physical injuries. It is very important to know what to do if you suddenly lose a tooth. As long as you keep calm and take the following steps, everything will be fine.

  • Step 1: Find the tooth that fell out. Make sure not to touch the bottom of the tooth (the root) and only touch the top of the tooth (the crown).
  • Step 2: Carefully rinse the tooth with milk or water. Do not scrub or wipe the tooth, just gently rinse the root and the crown of the tooth. Remember to make sure the tooth does not come into contact with any soap or chemicals.
  • Step 3: Carefully put the tooth back into the empty socket. This may sound strange but it is the best practice. Prevent the tooth from moving around by gently biting down a piece of medical gauze or soft fabric. If re-insertion of the tooth is not possible, then place the tooth in a glass or small container with milk. Water will not be very helpful in preserving the tooth as you go to the dentist. If you can’t place the tooth in milk, then place the tooth between your cheek and gums.
  • Step 4: Unless you are suffering from another injury that requires medical attention, go to a dentist immediately. The sooner you go to a dentist, the higher the chances of your tooth getting restored.

Solutions For Tooth Loss

Sometimes even after following the proper steps, your tooth cannot be reinserted. But there is nothing to be worried about because there are many different options available to replace the tooth. Some of the options are:

  • Dental Crowns & Dental Bridges: Dental crowns and dental bridges are excellent options for teeth replacement. Dental crowns are effective when only a single tooth needs to be replaced, while dental bridges are more effective when the patient is missing multiple teeth. A dental crown or a dental bridge procedure generally requires two appointments. Read about the procedures for getting dental crowns and dental bridges here.
  • Dentures: Dentures are removable dental appliances that are used to replace missing teeth. Dentures can be used to replace a single tooth, multiple teeth, or all teeth, including the surrounding gum and tissue. Dentures are one of the most popular options for teeth replacement. If you are interested in dentures, click here.
  • Dental Implants: Dental implants are one of the newest options for teeth replacement, and they are increasing in popularity. Dental implants are artificial roots that replace the natural roots of the lost tooth. Dental implants are used alongside dental crowns for tooth replacement and are also to stabilize dentures and dental bridges. Dental implants last for decades and have a high rate of success. Learn more about dental implants here.

Losing a tooth as an adult can be a terrifying experience. Make sure to maintain good oral habits and visit the dentist regularly to keep your teeth healthy and strong for many years to come. In the worst-case scenario where you do lose your teeth, make sure to go to the dentist immediately to receive treatment and keep your smile safe.

About the author

Dr. George Orfaly

Dr. George Orfaly, D.M.D.

Dr. George Orfaly is a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry and has been practicing as a dentist in Salem, MA since 2005. He has consistently improved the lives of his patients by providing them relief, confidence, and healthy smiles. He believes that oral health is directly related to overall health and well-being. Dr. Orfaly has also been an active member of the American Dental Association, Massachusetts Dental Society, and North Shore District Dental Society.

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Deej Twombly
October 7, 2020

Coming to Dr Orfaly is The best decision I could have made. I didn’t have a dentist for years and they saw me when I had an emergency. Now I am getting all of my dental work here, perfect caps, bridges and hygiene. I highly recommend Dr Orfaly and his staff.

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Mica Bolotin
October 28, 2020

After having a negative experience with a filling with a past dentist, I was nervous to go to a new dentist with tooth pain. Dr. Orfaly and team were very understanding and knowledgable when walking me through my options for a cracked tooth. 10/10 would recommend due to their professionalism, attention to detail, and level of care. Thanks team!

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Ashley Spencer
April 1, 2021

Dr Orfaly is the best dentist around! I have alot of anxiety around going to the dentist & Dr Orfaly always makes sure to check in to see how I'm doing & is so nice. If a referral is needed to a specialist, he makes the call for you & gets you an appt quickly (mine was even the same day) I love how they book you with the same dental hygienist for all cleanings.. Adds another level of comfort... Shoutout to mine, Kathy!

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