To say that tooth loss among adults is common in the United States is quite an understatement — 178 million people are missing at least one tooth and 40 million are missing all of their teeth. And the problem tends to increase with age, as about 30% of people between the ages of 65 and 74 have no natural teeth.
What all of these people have in common, aside from cosmetic issues, is that simple acts like eating and talking become more challenging with tooth loss.
As dental experts, the team here at Willow Glen Dental Specialists can’t underscore enough the importance of doing what you can to preserve your natural teeth.
To help in your efforts, we’ve pulled together some top tips to prevent adult tooth loss.
What you’re up against
The two primary drivers of adult tooth loss are gum disease and tooth decay. To put some numbers to these problems, nearly half of adults over the age of 30 have gum disease and 90% of adults between the ages of 20 and 64 have tooth decay.
Both of these issues begin when harmful bacteria get into your teeth and gums, where they eat away at the hard and soft tissues.
Stopping the bacteria
Given that bacteria are behind the two main causes of tooth loss, it makes sense to start there in your prevention efforts.
Your mouth contains about 700 different microbes, including bacteria and fungi. Many of these microbes are helpful in that they break down food for digestion and keep your mouth clean.
When microbes like bacteria settle on your teeth and gums and form a film, however, trouble can start. The film is called plaque, which creates a space where bacteria can run rampant.
So, your frontline effort to avoid tooth loss should be to prevent bacteria from setting up in your teeth and gums. The best way to do this is to:
- Brush your teeth and gums at least twice a day
- Rinse your mouth with water after meals
- Floss your teeth once a day
A good daily dental hygiene practice is paramount to preventing gum disease and tooth decay.
Get professional help
Even with great at-home dental hygiene, it’s still important to come see us twice a year for a professional cleaning. During this visit, we can eliminate bacteria-harboring plaque and tartar from hard-to-reach places in your mouth.
Prevent damage to your teeth
As important as cleaning efforts are, we also want to touch on the importance of protecting your teeth against damage. For example, if you engage in any activities that can threaten your teeth (think of a ball hitting your mouth or falling on a court), we can outfit you with a sports guard.
If you grind your teeth while you sleep, you’re wearing them down and leaving them more vulnerable to problems like root canal infections, so we suggest that you wear a nightguard.
As well, try to avoid habits like using your teeth as tools to cut something or open packages. You can damage and weaken your teeth doing this, which makes you more prone to tooth loss.
If you take steps now to protect your teeth, we promise that your efforts will pay off as you hold on to your natural teeth and avoid costly and time-consuming dental work down the road.
If you would like to learn more about preventing tooth loss, please contact our office in San Jose, California, by calling 408-478-9081, or you can book an appointment with us online.