Adults have 32 teeth, although if you’ve had all of your wisdom teeth removed, this number drops down to 28. However, the average adult has about 25 teeth, meaning that most adults are missing a few teeth. About 23 million Americans are missing all of their teeth.
These facts highlight just how common adult tooth loss is, but it’s important to know that many causes of tooth loss are avoidable. By identifying the best practices to reduce your risks of tooth loss, you can help preserve the integrity of your mouth.
Here’s what you need to know about avoiding tooth loss, courtesy of Kevin Miller, DDS, and our team at Dentistry in Paradise in Santa Barbara, California.
Maintain a solid at-home oral care routine
Good oral care is your best defense against tooth loss related to gum disease. Also referred to as periodontitis, gum disease is a serious infection that affects your whole mouth. It can cause red and bleeding gums, gum recession, infections, loose teeth, and bone loss in your jaw. Gum disease can even affect your heart health.
Cavities can also lead to tooth loss. While your dentist can fill small cavities, some cavities may grow too large to benefit from a filling. As decay deepens, it can affect the nerve and blood vessels (dental pulp) inside your teeth. This can also increase your risk of needing a root canal or an extraction.
The good news is that at-home oral care can help remove the bacteria that contribute to both dental decay and gum disease. Keep these tips in mind:
- Brush your teeth for two full minutes twice a day
- Floss regularly
- Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to brush against your gums
- Use mouthwash
In addition to your at-home care, schedule routine dental cleanings. During these cleanings, our team removes built-up plaque and tartar, assesses your gum health, and looks for any potential red flags or signs of cavities.
Treat gum disease when it’s at its earliest stages
If you do develop gum disease, get treatment when it’s at its earliest stage: gingivitis. At first, you may only notice red gums or bleeding while you brush. Even if it's painless, let us know! Treating gingivitis can help stop gum disease from progressing. This helps prevent tooth loss related to advanced gum disease.
Wear mouthguards regularly
Gum disease and tooth decay aren’t the only causes of adult tooth loss. Accidents, especially dental avulsion, can also contribute to missing teeth. If you participate in any contact sport or high-risk recreational activities — such as skateboarding, wrestling, and field hockey — always wear a custom mouth guard.
Not only does wearing a mouthguard help prevent knocked-out teeth, but it also helps prevent other dental injuries, such as fractures, chips, and lacerations.
Eat a balanced diet
What you eat affects your entire mind and body, and that includes your oral health. Eating sugary and processed foods can increase your risk of dental decay, but the reverse is also true. Eating a nutrient-dense diet 一 loaded with fresh fruits and vegetables 一 can help promote healthy gums and teeth.
Smoking can wreak havoc on your gums and increase your risk of developing gum disease. In fact, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists smoking as one of the major causes of gum disease.
If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you currently smoke, consider a smoking cessation program. You know quitting will benefit your lungs and heart, but recognize that doing so will also benefit your mouth.
If you spot the signs of decay or gum disease
Getting treatment for gum disease and tooth decay can help preserve your teeth. Dr. Miller and our team are experts when it comes to diagnosing and treating these conditions. We can also provide specific-to-you guidance that helps to further reduce your risk of tooth loss.
Book your next appointment at Dentistry in Paradise by calling 805-967-0272. You can also request an appointment online.