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Though tooth loss is common in America, many people aren’t aware of the risk factors and treatments for this condition until after they’re already facing an extraction. Here are five things to know about tooth loss, how to prevent it, and the best way to get your smile back if you have a tooth removed.


1. Gum Disease is The Leading Cause of Tooth Loss

While many factors can lead to a person losing a tooth, gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is at the top of the list. In its early stages, gum disease causes symptoms, including bleeding, tooth sensitivity, and gingivitis. If left untreated, gum disease causes the gums to pull away from the tooth, potentially leading to bone and tooth loss. 


2. Over Half of All Americans are Missing at Least One Tooth

Tooth loss is more common than many people think. One hundred seventy-eight million Americans are missing at least one of their teeth–over 54 percent of the population. Besides gum disease, other causes of tooth loss include tooth decay, physical trauma, cancer, and bone disease.  


3. A Quarter of Older Adults Have Severe Tooth Loss

People over 65 are at especially high risk for tooth loss. As we age, untreated gum disease can weaken teeth in their gums. Twenty-six percent of people over 65 have eight or fewer teeth, and one in six seniors has lost all of their teeth. Older adults in a lower income bracket, who received less than a high school education, have chronic health conditions, or are smokers are over three times as likely to have lost all their teeth. The good news is that total tooth loss has decreased from nearly a third of seniors in the early 2000s to only 17 percent in 2016.


4. Bone Loss After Extraction Is Possible

After you have a tooth extracted, you may experience bone loss in your jawbone for six months after the procedure. However, some steps can reduce your risk of bone loss after tooth extraction. Getting a dental implant is a great way to maintain bone density after tooth loss, as they provide the support required to maintain the structure of your jaw. The dental implant procedure can take up to a year to complete, from the initial x-ray to determine implant placement to the final step of implant restoration. For people who have lost most or all of their teeth, an all-on-4 dental implant is a great option to restore a beautiful smile with fully functional teeth. 

5. Poor Dental Hygiene Increases Risk of Tooth Loss

Slacking on your daily brushing and flossing regimen can severely impact your risk factor for tooth loss. In a paper by the Journal of Periodontology, dentists reported that 60 percent of patients who had lost a tooth never or only occasionally brushed their teeth. Only 16 percent of those patients said they brushed their teeth at least twice daily. Dentists also reported that 40 percent of their tooth loss patients had never received professional dental maintenance. As mentioned above, gum disease is the most common reason people lose their teeth, and the best way to combat it is with regular tooth brushing and dental checkups.

If you’re due for another dental checkup or are interested in hearing more about how tooth implants can reverse the effects of tooth loss, Pinnacle Dental Associates is here to help. We’re the number one dentist in Albany, Oregon, and offer a wide variety of dental services for the whole family. To learn more, call us today!