What are Common Causes of Tooth Loss?
The most common cause of losing teeth, tooth loss in children, also happens to be the healthiest. When growing up, all children lose their baby teeth, a process which makes way for the adult set of teeth. Other common causes of tooth loss, that mostly occur in adults, aren't so healthy, such as tooth decay, periodontal disease, and tooth injury. Most negative causes of tooth loss are preventable with proper oral hygiene.
Tooth decay is one of the most common causes of losing one's teeth. Decay occurs as a result of developing cavities, which are tiny holes in a tooth that can grow and cause infection. Cavities most often result from a lack of brushing and flossing one's teeth, which allows damaging plaque buildup. Plaque, along with sugar and foods on the surface of the teeth, break down a tooth's protective layering over time. If the decay is caught in time, a dentist or other tooth specialist can typically save the tooth. If the tooth can't be saved, one can get dental implants.
The other major case of tooth loss is gum, or periodontal, disease. Periodontal disease causes the gums to become swollen and puffy. If left untreated, it can erode the gums as well as damage the bones that keep teeth in place.
Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease, resulting in puffy and swollen gums that can feel painful. Periodontitis is the most extreme form of gum disease. It can not only cause teeth loss, but increase the risk of strokes and heart conditions. Periodontal disease, like cavities, can be easily prevented by brushing and flossing regularly.
The other major cause of tooth loss is physical trauma. One of the common reasons for physical tooth trauma is teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism. Some people grind their teeth as a bad habit to relieve stress; others grind their teeth during sleep without even realizing it. People can save their teeth from grinding damage by investing in a mouth guard to wear during sleep.
Sports injuries are another major reason why people lose teeth. High-contact sports such as hockey, football, and boxing greatly increase one's chance of sustaining serious mouth injury. To protect the teeth, many athletes are required to wear athletic mouth guards.
It's important to keep in mind that adults only get one set of teeth. It's true that lost teeth can be replaced with dental implants, but such surgeries are very costly, not to mention painful. Proper tooth care also reduces one's chances of developing other complications, such as hearts attacks and strokes.
@Iluviaporos - It would be nice if there was something real that we could do to combat tooth enamel loss, though. All we really have right now are either artificial replacements or preventative measures. If we could somehow coax the body to create new enamel, then most tooth loss wouldn't happen because the teeth would be able to repair themselves.
@pastanaga - Well, for starters, people never used to live long enough to get through their second set of teeth. Forty was considered a fairly good age to reach once and most people will keep their teeth until then, at least partially.
And back when humans were evolving, they wouldn't have had the access to refined sugar and processed acids that we enjoy today, so their teeth would have lasted longer without care.
Plus, wisdom teeth do come in later and it's not a coincidence that they are the kind of teeth that tend to wear down first, the grinding teeth at the back. They might be just a painful process of removal to modern people, but they might have been valuable replacement teeth once upon a time.
Rodents aren't completely blessed to have constantly growing teeth either. They have to keep gnawing them down or they can starve to death when the teeth get too big.
It's too bad that humans only get two sets of teeth. It would be much easier and make more sense if we got multiple sets like sharks do, or if our teeth were constantly growing like those of rodents.
I mean, we might not eat very hard foods all the time, but we do use our teeth for a lot of other things. I've heard that in the old days people would wear their teeth down completely because they would have to use them as a way to soften leather.
Not to mention that teeth must have been extremely painful and more of a burden back when there was no toothpaste or modern dentistry and no way to keep them clean and healthy.
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