Despite advances in dental technology and improvements in oral hygiene, tooth loss remains a problem for many adults in America. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, 3.75% of American adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have no remaining teeth. In addition, American adults between the age of 20 and 64 have an average of 24.92 out of 28 remaining teeth. This means that many adults in American will lose at least one of their permanent teeth by the time they reach the age of 64. This may lead you to wonder what is causing tooth loss among American adults.
The most common cause of tooth loss in American adults is periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease is a chronic infection of the tissue and bone surrounding the teeth and can range from mild inflammation (Gingivitis) to a more serious form called Periodontitis. If it is allowed to progress to Periodontitis, it can cause irreversible damage to the bone and tissues that support the teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss. The best way to prevent gum disease is to practice good daily oral hygiene including flossing and brushing daily, to visit your dentist regularly for scheduled dental cleanings and checkups and to avoid smoking or using other tobacco products.
Dental caries or tooth decay is another common cause of tooth loss in American adults. Tooth decay can range from mild decay that can be fixed with a simple dental filling to advanced decay that damages the structure of the tooth. Once a tooth becomes decayed to a certain extent, a filling will no longer fix the problem. In this case, a crown may be placed over the tooth to provide strength and to save the remaining healthy tooth structure. In cases where the decay is so severe that the tooth cannot be saved with a dental crown, an extraction may be necessary.
Tooth loss can also be caused by trauma to the mouth. This can result from motor vehicle accidents, participating in contact sports or other types of trauma. The best way to prevent trauma related tooth loss is to wear your seatbelt while riding in a car and to wear a properly fitting mouth guard while participating in contact sports. Athletic mouth guards can be purchased at most sporting good stores. You can also get a custom fitted mouth guard from your dentist or oral surgeon.
With Americans living longer and longer, it is even more important to take good care of your teeth to increase their chances of lasting for a lifetime. If you would like additional information on how to care for your dental health and prevent tooth loss, talk to your dentist or oral surgeon today.