No one wants to live with gaps in their smile. In addition to hurting your appearance, missing teeth impact your ability to eat and speak with confidence. Worst of all, tooth loss increases your risk for oral diseases that can threaten your overall health without treatment.
Keep reading to learn about the connection between tooth loss and oral disease, as well as how you can protect your smile.
Causes of Tooth Loss
The best place to start any discussion about tooth loss is learning what can cause it. Some of the most common factors include:
- Poor Oral Care — Neglecting to brush and floss every day, or visit your dentist twice a year, leads to the development of cavities, which can eventually result in tooth loss.
- High Sugar Diet — Even with good oral hygiene habits, too many sugary snacks and beverages can ruin your teeth.
- Tobacco — Smoking or chewing tobacco rots your teeth and may eventually lead to tooth loss without treatment.
- Periodontal Disease — While missing teeth increase your risk for gum disease, the reverse is also true. We’ll get into more detail on this relationship soon.
- Other Medical Conditions — Certain health conditions, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis have been linked to a higher risk of tooth loss.
Treatments for Tooth Loss
Though there are several options for replacing missing teeth, none can match the unique benefits offered by dental implants. As the only solution that protects your oral health in addition to restoring your smile, they’re more than worth the investment. They’re also highly durable, easy to clean, and can last a lifetime with proper care.
If you’re interested in dental implants, visit Dr. Elaine Chow in Thunder Bay, ON. She has the training and experience necessary to help you achieve a flawless smile.
How Tooth Loss Leads to Oral Disease
Your mouth is filled with all kinds of bacteria, some of which are harmful to your health. When you lose a tooth, the empty socket becomes an ideal breeding ground for these harmful bacteria and puts you at risk for developing an oral disease.
For this article, we’ll focus on the two most severe conditions, periodontal disease and oral cancer, while examining their relationship to tooth loss.
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is an infection that develops in the soft tissues of your mouth. It typically results from poor oral hygiene, especially lack of brushing and flossing. However, one of the biggest risk factors for developing gum disease is missing teeth.
The relationship between tooth loss and periodontal disease is interchangeable, as both conditions are known causes of the other. This is due to the presence of harmful bacteria that spread infection in your mouth.
If you overlook your dental care, these bacteria may attack your gums and lead to periodontal disease, which is the number one cause of tooth loss among adults. Conversely, if you lose a tooth from severe decay, the empty socket will attract bacteria and greatly increase your risk of developing gum disease.
In addition to tooth loss, periodontal disease can result in bleeding gums, loose or shifting teeth, malocclusion, and more.
Solutions for Periodontal Disease
In its early stage, known as gingivitis, gum disease can typically be treated with improved oral hygiene. Your dentist can also perform a scaling and root planing procedure, also known as a deep cleaning, to remove plaque and tartar from below your gumline.
If your infection progresses to the more severe stage of periodontitis, surgical intervention is often required. While the traditional method involves removing your infected tissue with a scalpel, this often harms your healthy tissue in the process and may necessitate an inconvenient recovery.
Thanks to advances in technology, there’s now a safer, more convenient alternative called LANAP®. This procedure involves using a specialized laser to remove bacteria from your gums without impacting your healthy tissue. Best of all, there’s no scalpel, stitching, or sedation required, so you can resume normal activities the next day.
If you’re in the area of Farmington Hills, MI, visit Dr. Roman Shlafer to take advantage of this minimally invasive treatment. As one of only 11 dentists in Michigan to feature this option, he’s worth traveling for.
Oral cancer is a deadly disease that claims the lives of over 10,000 people every year. It often begins with a sore in your mouth, or red and white patches, that won’t go away. Other sufferers complain of a sore throat or hoarseness. If you notice any of these symptoms, especially if they persist for more than 2 weeks, visit your dentist immediately for an oral cancer screening.
While alcohol and tobacco consumption are the largest risk factors for oral cancer, there have also been a number of studies connecting it to tooth loss. For example, a Swedish study compared a group of cancer patients to a control group, examining them for harmful bacteria. The research showed that nearly 40% of the cancer patients tested positive for high-risk bacteria, as opposed to less than 1% of the control group.
As with most cancers, oral cancer is primarily treated through radiation and chemotherapy. The best solution to oral cancer is detecting it early, so you can halt the progression of the disease before it advances to a severe stage.
Many dentists provide oral cancer screenings during routine checkups, such as Dr. Nicholas Sager in Hewitt, TX. As an experienced general dentist and implant provider, he can protect you from tooth loss and oral cancer symptoms under the same roof.
Maintain a Healthy Smile for a Longer Life
Conditions such as periodontal disease and oral cancer can lead to huge consequences without treatment and even threaten your life. To guard against these effects, maintain excellent dental hygiene by brushing and flossing every day. It’s also crucial that you visit your dentist at least twice per year, so they can remove leftover plaque and examine your mouth for any potential issues.
In the event that you lose a tooth, don’t delay seeking treatment. The sooner you fill any gaps in your smile, the less likely you are to develop these diseases.