Poor oral hygiene can lead to serious dental problems and eventually tooth loss, which is why dentists such as Dr. Rowntree suggest brushing and flossing regularly. However, recent studies have shown that a normal oral hygiene routine may not be enough for some people to keep their mouths healthy.
What Causes Tooth Loss?
There are multiple reasons why someone might lose a tooth, and it’s not usually something that happens overnight. Tooth loss has been known to occur due to bacteria, injury, medical problems, and genetics.
When bacteria infects a tooth, it turns into plaque. If not removed, this microscopic substance can cause your teeth to become weak and decayed. Severe decay spreads to the gums, causing gum disease and making your teeth looser and more vulnerable to damage.
What Role Does Genetics Play in Tooth Loss?
Genetics or genes are what makes up a person. They’re characteristics in your DNA that are passed on from generation to generation. While we know genetics plays a huge role in how you look and act, studies have shown that they can play a role in your oral health as well.
Each person has an immune system that fights off bacteria and keeps their bodies healthy. While the strength of your immune system can be determined by your lifestyle, it can also be influenced by how strong your parents’ or grandparents’ immune systems are, too.
People with weaker immune systems might develop tooth decay easier than those with stronger immune systems. If your parents are prone to decay or gum disease, you may be more likely to develop it as well. While tooth loss isn’t directly a genetic trait, the likelihood of bacteria invading your mouth and eventually causing tooth loss may be.
Preventing Tooth Loss
Tooth loss can negatively affect your appearance and also eventually lead to bigger health problems, according to Dr. Yemoto. Knowing what you can do to prevent tooth loss is essential in maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
If your teeth and gums are strong and healthy, you’ll be far less likely to experience tooth loss or decay.
Dentists recommend the following preventive care tips:
- Brush your teeth twice a day — brushing after each meal is even more beneficial
- Floss daily — flossing after each time you brush is also recommended
- Visit your dentist regularly — this means scheduling an appointment every six months to have your teeth professionally cleaned and examined.
- Limit sugary foods — bacteria often stick to foods high in glucose, so eating healthier foods will help keep the plaque off.
Additional Care Steps People Prone to Decay Can Take
While following a basic oral hygiene routine like the one listed above may be enough to keep most people’s teeth healthy, those who suspect they’re prone to decay due to genetics can take additional preventive steps.
The first additional preventive care item that can be added to your daily routine is mouthwash. Dentists recommend alcohol-free mouthwash to ensure your mouth doesn’t become dried out and more susceptible to bacteria. Swishing mouthwash between your teeth once a day helps wash away any bacteria that may be lingering.
Brushing your teeth twice a day is already part of a regular oral hygiene routine, but people who are prone to decay can take the extra step of making sure they’re using toothpaste with fluoride in it. Fluoride is a mineral that can strengthen teeth and protect them from bacteria.
Looking for a professional treatment to protect your teeth from decay? A dental sealant is a thin plastic coating that covers your tooth to protect it from bacteria. This treatment can be completed during one of your regular dental exams with your dentist.
What Happens If I Experience Tooth Loss?
If your teeth become severely damaged and need to be extracted or you have already experienced tooth loss and are living with missing teeth, it’s crucial that you get in touch with an implant dentist such as Dr. Dillard.
A tooth that is severely damaged or decayed can negatively affect the surrounding ones, so Dr. Dillard may recommend extracting it. However, missing teeth can also lead to gum disease and cardiovascular disease, so replacing your tooth right away is essential. He may suggest a dental implant or a fixed bridge as a replacement solution.
Knowing When Your Teeth Need Extra Care
If your parents or grandparents are prone to tooth decay or tooth loss, there’s a chance you may be too. Taking extra care of your teeth and following the preventive care tips listed above can save you from tooth loss and additional health problems.