The statistics surrounding adult tooth loss in the United States are alarming, to say the least. For starters, one-quarter of adults aged 65 and older have eight, or fewer, teeth. Additionally, one in six adults aged 65 and older have lost all of their teeth. The good news is that tooth loss in this age group has been cut by a third over the last couple of decades.
One of the main reasons behind this decrease is that more people are taking action to preserve their teeth with the help of their dentists. Here at Hillsdale Dental Care, our experienced dental team, led by Drs. Magdalena Azzarelli and Roge Jacob, consider tooth preservation as one of our top priorities.
In this month’s blog post, we want to focus on adult tooth loss — what the risk factors are and what steps you can take to hold onto your teeth.
Behind the tooth loss
There are many risk factors when it comes to adult tooth loss, and gum disease, or periodontitis, leads the charge. Nearly half of adults aged 30 and older in the US have some degree of periodontitis, making the problem fairly widespread.
Other risk factors for adult tooth loss include:
- Gum disease
- Dental caries
- Habits, such as smoking
- Having preexisting health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease
- Poor dental hygiene
As you can see by this list, there are really only two risk factors over which you have no control — aging and preexisting conditions. This means that plenty of factors for preventing tooth loss are well within your control.
Preventing tooth loss
Since gum disease is the primary driver of tooth loss in adults, let’s take a closer look at how you can combat the condition. The first point we want to underscore is that gum disease is progressive, which means the earlier you come to see us for periodontal treatments, the better your outcome.
For example, gum disease usually starts out as gingivitis, which is inflammation in your gums. In most cases, one of our professional dental cleanings is enough to clear away the bacteria and plaque from around your gums to stop gum disease from progressing.
Should your gum disease progress to the next stage, we can turn to a deep cleaning in which we eliminate bacteria-harboring pockets in your gums and reseal your gums to your teeth.
In advanced stages of gum disease, we can try surgical solutions to preserve your teeth, such as bone grafting and pocket reduction, but it’s far better if we catch periodontitis in its earlier stages.
Of course, you should take steps at home to prevent gum disease in the first place, which include brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing once a day, and rinsing after meals.
Good dental hygiene can not only prevent gum disease, it can also prevent tooth decay, which is another driver of tooth loss. If you still develop dental caries, early intervention through fillings is another great way to preserve your teeth.
While the dental hygiene you provide at home is crucial in preserving your teeth, so is the care we provide here. Through twice-a-year professional dental cleanings and an annual dental exam, we can help keep your teeth and gums healthy, long into the future.
If you’d like to learn more about ways you can prevent adult tooth loss, please contact our office in San Jose, California, to schedule a consultation.