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What causes us to lose our teeth?

Losing teeth, even if it’s only one tooth, can impact your bite, speech, eating capability and overall confidence

We are are all born two set of teeth, a set of baby teeth and a set of adult teeth. Our baby teeth start to come in at around 6 months and last us until we’re about 11 to 12 years old. By this time, most of our baby teeth have been replaced with permanent adult teeth. There’s no more replacement teeth after this. If you lose an adult tooth, you either have to replace it at the dentist or live with the missing gap. Unfortunately, a vast majority of us end up losing one or more adult teeth during our lifetime. Tooth loss could be the result of a poor diet, gum disease, accident, dental cavities and countless other reasons. Here are some of the most common causes of tooth loss in the adult population:

Gum disease (periodontal disease)

Most people suffering from advanced gum disease lose multiple teeth

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is the number one cause of tooth loss among the adult population. In fact, more people lose their adult teeth due to gum disease than any other cause. Unfortunately, those suffering from advanced gum disease tend to lose not just one tooth, but rather multiple teeth. Many people who are completely toothless became that way as a result of advanced gum disease. To learn more about gum disease and how to prevent it from getting worse, click here.

Cavities and dental infection

Infected teeth either need a root canal treatment or they have to be removed from your mouth

Another common cause of tooth loss is cavities and infection. If you don’t fix your dental cavities on time, they eventually reach your tooth nerve. This causes pain and infection and your tooth can no longer be fixed with a simple filling or crown. Taking painkillers and antibiotics only masks the symptoms and does not resolve the issue. Infected teeth either need a root canal treatment or they have to be removed from your mouth. Only by performing a root canal or removing the infected tooth you can properly eliminate infection and restore the health of your mouth. Otherwise, the infection remains dormant and continues to drain into your bloodstream and sinuses affecting your entire body.

Accidents and fractures

You need to remove your tooth when there’s not enough tooth structure left to support a long-lasting crown

Some teeth break so badly that they are considered non-restorable. Sadly, these teeth need to be removed from your mouth. The good news is that most broken teeth can be saved by your dentist with a filling or crown. However, if there’s not enough tooth structure left to support a long-lasting crown, then you should remove your tooth. This happens when you break your tooth right at or slightly below the gum lines. In these cases, it’s best to remove the broken tooth and replace it with a dental implant or bridge. You can try saving the tooth with procedures such as a crown lengthening, posts, pins, etc. However, if there’s not enough tooth structure left to support a crown, your tooth will fail sooner or later. Therefore, it’s best to remove these non-restorable teeth and replace them with dental implants.

Defective restorations

When a bridge like this fails you need to remove all the supporting teeth

You could lose your teeth due as your dental work starts to fail. Dental treatment such as fillings, crowns, bridges and root canals are not guaranteed and they can all fail over time. Sometimes there is a way to save these tooth. Other times, there is wide-spread infection or your teeth are damaged beyond repair. When this happens, you have no choice but to remove the damaged teeth and replace them with dental implants, dentures or bridges. Here are some examples of things that could go wrong with your dental restorations:

  • Your crowns develop new cavities or lose their supporting bone
  • Teeth supporting a bridge fail because they are overloaded with too much chewing forces
  • Root canal teeth start to leak, fail or break over time

Your teeth continue to remain vulnerable, even after you get them fixed by your dentist. Just because you received a beautiful new crown does not mean that it will last you forever. Recurrent cavities, heavy bite forces, and bone loss can cause you to lose teeth. This could happen even if your teeth have been perfectly restored your dentist. This explains why it’s so important to get regular check-ups, maintain proper oral hygiene, and protect your teeth against heavy bite forces. Otherwise, you risk losing your existing dental work and having to have your teeth removed!

Impacted wisdom teeth

Impacted wisdom teeth cause pain, infection and crowding

Wisdom teeth, or 3rd molars, are the most problematic of all adult teeth. Not everyone has wisdom teeth in their mouth. However, if you have wisdom teeth in your mouth, then there’s a good chance you’ll have to have them removed at some point. If you have enough room to comfortably accommodate these teeth, then you get to keep them. Unfortunately, the vast majority of people don’t have enough room to fit their wisdom teeth. As a result, they have to have their wisdom teeth removed. Impacted wisdom teeth cause pain, infection and teeth crowding. You should remove problematic wisdom teeth as soon as possible. Click here to learn more about wisdom teeth and when it’s time to remove them.

Orthodontic extractions

It’s not uncommon to remove a few teeth to correct your bite
when getting braces

Finally, sometimes you need to remove a few teeth to straighten the rest of your teeth. It’s not uncommon to have to remove one or more teeth to correct your bite when getting braces. For instance, if your teeth are severely crowded, it’s very common for your orthodontist to recommend removing 2 to 4 bicuspid teeth. While the idea of losing a few good teeth may seem disheartening, keep in mind that it’s not possible to properly straighten your smile without doing so. Having crooked teeth is not only a cosmetic concern, but it makes it much more difficult to keep your teeth healthy. This can trigger gum disease, lead to interproximal cavities and cause infection. So take your orthodontist’s advice and remove these extra teeth, because having a straight beautiful teeth is worth it!

Why is it bad to lose your adult teeth?

Losing one tooth can lead to multiple teeth loss over the years

We only get one set of adult teeth that are supposed to last us a lifetime. Losing teeth, even if it’s just one tooth, can create many problems down the road. Here are some of the issues you might face when you start losing your teeth:

Loss of chewing ability

Losing a tooth causes your neighboring teeth to drift into the gap which causes your neighboring teeth to become crooked. This negatively impacts your bite and chewing ability, sometimes even your speech.

Increased risk to your remaining teeth

Most people find it difficult to clean teeth adjacent to a missing gap. These teeth are more susceptible to developing cavity and bone loss and are at much higher risk of becoming problematic in the near future. Additionally, every time you lose a tooth, you put more stress onto your remaining teeth. This also leads to chipping and cracking of your remaining teeth.

Reduced confidence

As your remaining teeth drift apart, this creates unsightly gaps between your teeth. This can be an eye sore and it affects your confidence and self-worth. People with missing teeth, especially those towards the front, smile less, take less photos, and are more conscious of their smiles.

Tooth loss can have an avalanche effect. Losing just one tooth can lead to multiple teeth loss down the road. Take your missing teeth seriously and look into replacing them with dental implants or bridges. The only exceptions are wisdom teeth and extra teeth removed for orthodontic purposes. Talk to your dentist if you have any additional questions regarding causes of tooth loss and how they can help you address this problem.


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