It’s common knowledge that as we grow older, our bodies change. Your hair changes colour, you develop age spots on your skin, and you begin to shrink.
However, losing their teeth is one of the main concerns many people have as they grow older. But is losing your teeth an inevitable part of ageing?
Tooth loss can be caused by a few different factors; despite this, the consequences of tooth loss are the same. But there is no need to stress because there are solutions available for those living with missing teeth.
Causes of Tooth Loss
Is ageing one of the causes of tooth loss? And if so, at what age do teeth fall out in adults? Ageing doesn’t directly cause tooth loss because many factors come into play with oral health.
The most common causes of tooth loss are
Neglecting your teeth is one of the most common causes of tooth loss, regardless of age.
If you don’t take proper care of your teeth by brushing, flossing and using mouthwash daily, you’re subjecting your teeth to tooth decay.
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth eat away at the tooth enamel. This happens when sugar and starch are left on the teeth from poor brushing, resulting in plaque.
The plaque is so acidic that it destroys the enamel (the toughest tissue in the body) and dentin, causing cavities, which are tiny holes or pits in the teeth.
The decay will spread if plaque and cavities aren’t treated properly (through professional cleaning and fillings).
If the decay spreads to the inner chamber of the tooth, all the living tissues are affected, and the only way to save the tooth is with a root canal.
If the tooth decay is so bad that a root canal can’t save it, the only thing to do is remove the tooth.
Gum disease, known as periodontitis, is the number one cause of tooth loss in adults worldwide.
Like tooth decay, gum disease occurs when plaque hardens under the gumline into tartar.
When bacteria infect the gum tissue, they can never be entirely removed. As bacteria sits between the gum and teeth, it produces acids that destroy the gum tissue and tooth structures.
Some common symptoms of gum disease include swollen or puffy gums, tender gums, gums that bleed easily and more.
If left untreated, gum disease causes the gums to recede, destroying the bone supporting the tooth, causing it to loosen and, in severe cases, fall out.
The most common way to prevent gum disease is to brush twice daily, floss daily and visit your dentist for regular checkups.
Poor health and nutrition
The connection between your oral and overall health is more important than you think. This is why it’s important to have a healthy diet to ensure your teeth are healthy, too.
Eating foods harmful to your teeth, such as lollies, potato chips and bread, can cause cavities, leading to tooth loss.
Another common cause of tooth loss is calcium deficiency. If you have a calcium deficiency, it can make it harder for your body to maintain healthy bone tissue in your jaw to support and prolong the life of your teeth.
To ensure a healthy mouth, teeth and gums, eat calcium and fibre-rich foods and limit your intake of sugar and alcohol.
Smoking and vaping
Smoking cigarettes, vaping, cigars and chewing tobacco all make you more susceptible to developing gum disease and oral cancers, leading to tooth loss. In fact, smokers are twice as likely to develop gum disease than non-smokers.
Smokers also often don’t develop the early warning signs of gum disease, such as bleeding gums, as tobacco can reduce blood circulation in the gums.
While you may think you’re in the clear for not having bleeding gums, your body may actually be developing severe periodontitis without you knowing it.
Life is unpredictable, and accidents can happen anytime, sometimes resulting in tooth loss.
Car accidents, serious falls and sports-related injuries can lead to trauma to the face and teeth, which can cause teeth to become loose and potentially fall out.
If you’ve suffered dental trauma, getting your mouth seen by a dentist as soon as possible is best.
Certain diseases can make you more susceptible to tooth loss, including
- Osteoporosis: While osteoporosis mainly causes the hips, spines and wrists to weaken and become porous, it can also affect the jawbone. If the jaw deteriorates, it can cause teeth to loosen and fall out. Without teeth stimulating healthy jawbone growth, untreated tooth loss eventually leads to jawbone decline. Therefore, individuals with jawbone loss due to osteoporosis have a higher risk of tooth loss.
- Diabetes: Individuals with diabetes who have irregular blood glucose levels are at a higher risk of tooth problems and gum disease than those without diabetes. This is because diabetes can increase the amount of glucose in your saliva and, when combined with food, can form plaque, leading to cavities and potential tooth loss.
Dangers of Missing Teeth
While you may think the only issue missing teeth cause is a change in how your smile looks, it’s much deeper.
Some of the most common dangers of missing teeth include:
In the same way muscles need to be stimulated to stay healthy, teeth help to stimulate and support the jawbone.
If you have missing teeth, the part of the jawbone that once supported them is no longer supported. When this happens, the bone eventually deteriorates.
Teeth will shift
Another consequence of tooth loss is that it causes the remaining teeth to shift.
When you lose a tooth, it leaves a gap in your mouth. The remaining teeth then naturally move to fill the gap, which results in crooked teeth with new, unexplained gaps.
A shift in teeth can eventually lead to an irregular bite. Many types of irregular bites exist, including malocclusions, underbites, overbites and crossbites.
Your new, irregular bite can impact your remaining teeth and the way you chew. If your teeth don’t come together properly when you bite, it can cause many problems, such as headaches, muscle pain, tooth loss and even TMJ disorders.
Losing a tooth leaves an open pocket in your gum that can easily allow in bacteria, leading to an infection or gum disease.
If left untreated, gum disease can lead to losing your remaining teeth.
Solutions for Tooth Loss
From physical injuries to smoking and tooth decay, tooth loss can happen at any age, which is why there is a range of solutions to suit individual needs.
Dental implants are one of the common solutions for tooth loss.
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots of titanium surgically implanted into the jawbone. The crown (or artificial tooth) is commonly made of porcelain, acrylic or zirconia and is placed on top of the implant to mimic a natural tooth.
Dental implants are a great solution if you have one or multiple missing teeth in different areas.
All-on-4® dental implants
Unlike traditional dental implants that are used to replace a single tooth, All-on-4® dental implants replace an entire arch of teeth.
The All-on-4® treatment involves surgically implanting four implants (two at the front and two angled at the back) in each jawbone to support a fixed full-arch prosthesis that replaces all of the teeth in the upper or lower jaw.
At Next Smile Australia, we follow the only clinically proven Malo Protocol, a two-stage process to implant your All-on-4® teeth. During the first stage, you’ll receive your first set of teeth, a provisional bridge left in for three to six months while your jawbone fuses to the dental implants. In stage two, you’ll receive your final set of teeth.
All-on-4® dental implants are ideal if you’ve lost most or all of your teeth due to injury, tooth decay or gum disease.
Also known as false teeth, dentures are removable teeth designed to replace missing natural teeth and the surrounding gum tissues.
Dentures are custom-made to fit your mouth. They can replace a full set of teeth (complete dentures) or multiple missing teeth (partial dentures).
Compared to dental implants and All-on-4® dental implants, dentures are a budget-friendly option for replacing missing teeth; however, function does become diminished due to the lack of stability in the mouth.
Book a Consultation at Next Smile Australia
As we grow older, our bodies change. But that doesn’t mean our chances of tooth loss increase. Many causes of tooth loss can happen at any age, such as physical injuries, specific diseases and our nutrition habits.
If you have lost multiple or all of your teeth, the All-on-4® treatment could be the solution you’re looking for.
A longer-lasting solution than dentures, All-on-4® replaces an entire arch of teeth supported by only four implants.
If you’d like to learn more about the All-on-4® treatment and find out if you’re an ideal candidate, book a consultation at Next Smile Australia.