Losing a tooth can be traumatic, instantly altering your smile and your confidence, too. What many people don't realize is that adult tooth loss is actually quite common — in fact, about half of American adults — 120 million — are missing at least one tooth, and roughly 36 million are missing all their teeth.
Of course, knowing that you have plenty of company isn’t really much help when you’re facing an unexpected gap in your smile. In fact, arming yourself with facts about adult tooth loss can help dispel some common myths that could be keeping you from getting the care you need to protect your oral health.
At Lancaster Dental Care Associates, our team wants patients in Lancaster, California, to know the facts about adult tooth loss, including what they can do to prevent it and what to do once a tooth is lost. In this post, we dispel five common myths that could be holding you back from getting the care you need.
1. Myth: Tooth loss is inevitable
There was a time in the not-too-distant past when tooth loss really was a common consequence of aging, especially during the years before fluoride treatments became available. But today, that’s all changed.
With proper preventive and proactive care, you can keep your own teeth for your whole life. The keys to a lifetime of healthy smiles are pretty simple, too: regular brushing and flossing, following a tooth-healthy diet, not smoking, and having regular dental checkups and cleanings.
2. Myth: You don’t need to worry about tooth loss as long as your teeth look good
About half of all American adults have gum disease, a leading cause of adult tooth loss. Yet unlike a cavity that lets you know it’s there by causing a lot of pain, gum disease is subtle, often causing few or no discernible symptoms until serious damage has been done.
That means that even if your teeth look (and feel) fine, you still need regular, twice-yearly checkups to prevent gum disease and to look for other issues that could eventually lead to tooth loss. Regular checkups gives us a chance to provide preventive care that stops those problems in their tracks.
3. Myth: Tooth loss only affects the way your smile looks
It’s true, losing a tooth can completely alter your smile — even if the tooth that’s lost is located farther back in your mouth. But tooth loss can also affect the way you talk and the way you eat, which in turn can lead to nutritional problems.
Plus, because tooth loss makes you feel self-conscious, it can keep you from enjoying social events and take a toll on your emotional health in other ways, too. Some studies show the germs involved in gum disease can increase your risks of heart disease and stroke, which means your missing tooth could be an early warning sign of serious medical problems.
4. Myth: You don’t need to replace a missing tooth
In addition to leading to nutritional problems, problems with speech, and other issues described above, if you delay replacing a missing tooth, you just might be in for additional tooth loss in the near future. That’s because when you lose a tooth, it leaves a gap in your gums — a gap your neighboring teeth will quickly try to fill.
As your neighboring teeth shift and lean into that new gap, their own roots loosen, increasing the risk that eventually, they’ll fall out, too. This is what’s frequently referred to as the “domino effect” of tooth loss. But by replacing that tooth — with a bridge, denture, or implant — the gap is filled, and that means your other teeth will stay put, too.
5. Myth: Tooth replacements look and feel “weird”
Although sharks (and some other animals) have the good fortune of replacing missing teeth with new, “home-grown” teeth, humans are not so lucky. The good news: Today there are plenty of options for replacing teeth, including dentures, bridges, and state-of-the-art dental implants. Each option features modern design techniques and materials for a result that looks and feels natural and comfortable.
In fact, implants have become extremely popular in recent years, thanks to their design that mimics the structure of a natural tooth. Our practice offers advanced implant technology along with other options to help you maintain your smile, whether you lose one, several, or all of your teeth.
Don’t accept tooth loss as a part of getting older. To learn more about treatments that can help you protect your teeth and your smile, call 661-215-8130 to book an appointment with the team at Lancaster Dental Care Associates today.