The Harsh Truth of Tooth Loss
Unfortunately, losing teeth can be a harsh reality for most older individuals. According to the CDC, nearly one in five adults 65 and older has lost all their teeth. Complete tooth loss is twice as likely among adults 75 and older (26%) compared to adults 65-74 (13%).
The statistics may make it seem like tooth loss is inevitable, but everyone can do their part in ensuring that their mouth stays as healthy as possible!
Common Causes of Tooth Loss
The most common cause of tooth loss in older adults is periodontal disease. Periodontal or gum disease is a condition that inflames the gums and bones supporting the teeth. The two most common periodontal diseases are:
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums. Redness of the gums, swelling and bleeding when brushing are signs of the disease. Plaque covering the teeth and gums causes chronic inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth. In the past, people believed gingivitis was the first stage of losing both gum and bone tissue surrounding the teeth. Today, better personal oral hygiene can reverse gingivitis.
Periodontitis is inflammation affecting the bone and tissues of the teeth. Symptoms include the formation of pockets or spaces between the tooth and gums. These characteristics could lead to chronic periodontal destruction, which may result in the loss of teeth. Unfortunately, this disease can be hard to diagnose due to its lack of pain. The earliest sign can be bleeding during brushing. Although the damage is considered irreversible, the deterioration can stop with treatment.
Maintaining Your Oral Health
While tooth loss can be a side effect of aging, there is always something you can do to slow the process down, even if it is just a little bit. One of those is maintaining your oral health in the following ways:
- Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
- Clean between your teeth at least once a day with floss or another flossing tool.
- If you wear dentures, make sure to clean them daily. It is best practice to take them out at night and remove them for at least four hours each day.
- Avoid smoking. Aside from putting you at greater risk for lung and other cancers, smoking can amplify the chances of gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
- Schedule frequent visits with your dentist. One can never be too careful. Get a complete dental check-up regularly.
Tooth loss as you age doesn’t have to be inevitable. All it takes is a little more care with your dental hygiene. If you are suffering from dental issues, please schedule an appointment with your dentist to explore treatment options.
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