Total adult tooth loss, also known as edentulism, is an oral health condition that affects approximately 9 million people in the United States. Twenty-five percent of seniors older than 60 are completely toothless, explains a study in the International Journal of Dentistry.
Once this condition presents itself, it is irreversible and can only be treated by the patient getting full dentures, dental implants or a combination of both treatment plans. What are the risk factors for total tooth loss, and how can you make sure that you retain your teeth as you age?
Endentulism Risk Factors
There are several factors associated with total tooth loss:
- Age. According to the American Academy of Periodontology, over 70 percent of people older than 65 have some form of periodontal (gum) disease, which is the major reason that people lose their teeth. This means that there is a much greater chance of having edentulism if the patient is older than 65.
- Smoking. There is plenty of evidence that along with systemic medical conditions, you have a much greater chance of losing your teeth and damaging your gums if you are a smoker or you were in the past.
- Genetics. Your genetic background can also determine if you will lose teeth as you age, notes the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. With good oral hygiene and routine preventive maintenance from your dentist and dental hygienist, you can help lower those risk factors. Think of these appointments just like you would a cardio exercise regimen that may help your heart health despite risk factors present in your family.
- Other factors. Stress, medications you take for other medical conditions, and the types of food you eat can also influence the chance of developing edentulism. Stress can lead to excessive tooth grinding, causing teeth to break and crumble. It is important that you read the instructions for any medication you are taking that can point out side effects, such as dry mouth or a tendency to bleed more easily, both of which can deteriorate your gum health. Type 2 diabetes can also put a patient more at risk for developing gum disease, and ultimately tooth loss.
Can Patients Prevent Total Tooth Loss?
Routine exams from your dentist and dental hygienist can help detect potential edentulism and put you on a path to keeping your teeth for a lifetime. Floss daily and brush twice daily with a toothpaste like Colgate Total Advanced Deep Clean toothpaste, which helps prevent plaque, gingivitis, tartar build-up, cavities and bad breath.