In children, a loose tooth is a milestone, as it shows that their bones are developing typically. Some parents even encourage their kids to collect their fallen teeth because they serve as unique — albeit a little grotesque — memorabilia. But if you feel a loose tooth in your adolescence or adulthood, be alarmed. That’s not supposed to happen anymore unless you injured your mouth.
Even if you’re old and gray, losing your teeth isn’t an everyday occurrence. Sure, your bones get weaker as you age, but its worse effects are entirely preventable. Therefore, if your teeth fall off past your childhood without injury involved, it’s a sign that you’re dealing with a health problem.
Below are the risk factors of post-childhood tooth loss:
1. Unhealthy Gums
For your teeth to stay sturdy and intact, it needs a strong supporting cast, which is the gums. The soft wet tissue that lines your oral cavity is essential too. Unhealthy gums are prone to infection, such as gingivitis or a more severe one, called periodontal disease. An infection can cause the gums to recede, making the teeth wobbly and in danger of falling off.
Even worse, a gum infection can deteriorate the jawbone. This is one of the most common reasons senior adults lose their teeth. It’s a slow process, starting from plaque developing between the tooth and gum. If the plaque isn’t removed for a long period, it could eat away at the gums and eventually loosen the teeth.
Hence, age in itself isn’t a primary cause of tooth loss in senior adults. In most cases, it is a periodontal disease that’s left untreated. Fortunately, it is treatable at any age, only requiring a professional teeth cleaning, antibiotics, and in severe cases, surgery.
The hormonal changes in pregnancy can affect the bones and tissues in your mouth. Increased levels of estrogen and progesterone can alter the periodontium, the collection of bones and ligaments that hold your teeth together. If the periodontium suffers an issue, it could loosen its hold on a tooth.
Sometimes, the teeth may even rot before they fall off. Tooth loss and rotting during pregnancy aren’t uncommon. The condition is called pregnancy gingivitis, which is caused by hormonal changes.
It occurs naturally among pregnant women, so the solutions are limited once it has happened. But you can reduce your risks for it. If you start experiencing symptoms such as gum tenderness, redness, swelling, and loose tooth, visit your dentist immediately. Set an appointment every six months or more frequently if your gingivitis requires heavier monitoring. Consider switching to toothpaste for pregnant women as well.
3. Playing Rough Sports or Getting into an Accident
Playing rough sports without protecting your teeth can cause injuries to your mouth. Likewise, getting into an accident, like a car or bicycle crash, can injure your face and teeth. If your teeth are healthy, they won’t likely fall off, but they may chip or get loose instead. Visit a dentist as soon as possible if this happens so that you can prevent tooth loss.
Stress affects your health in various ways. And it doesn’t spare your oral health. When you’re stressed, you might grind or clench your teeth subconsciously. This habit may damage your teeth or wear them down into a stump.
If you grind your teeth in sleep, your dentist will most likely give you a mouth guard, a protective dental appliance that will curb your clenching and grinding at night. If the habit is caused by stress, practice stress reduction techniques like meditation, counseling, etc.
How is Tooth Loss Treated?
Lost permanent teeth cannot go back, so dentists perform a teeth replacement procedure to fix it. They’d either go for dentures, crowns, or implants. If you lost most of your teeth, you’d likely be given complete dentures.
If gum disease is the culprit of tooth loss, you will undergo a separate treatment. That could be scaling and root planing, a deep cleaning procedure that can help reverse gum infection. You may also be given prescription drugs or a mouth rinse to ensure that the bacteria won’t return.
If your gum disease is severe, you might be a candidate for surgery. You might undergo a bone graft, too, if the tooth loss has deteriorated the other bones in your mouth.
These procedures are costly, so preventing tooth loss is better than curing it, as is the case with any health issue. Protect your gums by brushing at least twice daily and flossing once daily. Eat food that’s rich in calcium, too. And most importantly, don’t forget to visit your dentist regularly. Your oral health should be checked from time to time, even if you’re not experiencing problems.