If you don’t know the real reasons behind adult tooth loss, you might believe it was a natural part of aging. About 69% of adults between the ages of 35 and 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth. But it’s typically due to a traumatic injury, extensive dental disease, or a failed dental restoration, not just the progression of age. Although your dentist can help restore your smile to its former glory after suffering tooth loss, the phenomenon isn’t natural, or inevitable, and usually occurs due to poor dental health. To help you effectively preserve your smile, we explain what you should know about adult tooth loss, including why it happens and what to do if it does.
Adult teeth are often referred to as permanent because, ideally, they’re meant to last a lifetime. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case, and since we only grow one set of permanent teeth, caring for them (or replacing them, if necessary) is especially important. Infections like tooth decay and gum disease, the results of poor hygiene and neglect, can destroy your oral tissues until one or more teeth fall out. Tooth decay, which leads to cavities, consumes your tooth’s structure until it’s too eroded to function. Extremely decayed teeth are usually extracted to prevent the infection from spreading to the nearby tissues. Gum disease, the leading cause of adult tooth loss, attacks the gums and jawbone that support your smile, rendering them unable to retain all of your teeth.
Modern replacement teeth have advanced considerably over the years, and today, tooth loss isn’t the nearly-insurmountable problem that it used to be. Advanced dental prostheses are designed to closely mimic natural teeth in both look and function, allowing patients who’ve lost teeth to regain the confidence of a full, healthy smile. One of the most important innovations in restorative dentistry is the dental implant, which can be surgically-inserted into your jawbone to replace the roots of your missing teeth. Dental implants are made from biocompatible titanium, and as your jawbone heals, it fuses to the implant’s surface. Depending on the number of teeth you’ve lost, your dentist may recommend one or a series of dental implants to support your appropriate dental prosthesis.