Your smile is one of the first things that people notice about you, so missing teeth can really shake your confidence. When you have gaps in your mouth, you might be reluctant to introduce yourself to new people or smile in photos. To preserve your natural smile, guard against these four common causes of tooth loss.
Bacteria that linger on your teeth can break down your enamel. Once that happens, the lower layers of your teeth can start to decay as well. This type of damage is commonly known as a cavity. If a cavity is caught early on, your dentist can perform a filling to treat the problem. However, if the decay is allowed to continue unchecked, it will eventually affect the root of your tooth. You’ll probably need to get a root canal and a crown, or you’ll lose the tooth.
Early-stage gum infections are known as gingivitis; symptoms including red, swollen, and bleeding gums. If this disease is allowed to progress, it can turn into periodontitis. This means that the infection travels beneath the gum line and creates pockets of bacteria within the tissue. The resulting inflammation can cause your teeth and your gums to separate from one another. Then, as your oral structures break down, your teeth can shift positions, become loose, and even fall out.
Physical activity is good for your body, but it can leave your teeth vulnerable to accidents. A blow to the face from a fist, a ball, or a bat can knock a tooth right out of place. Falling hard on your face or running into a wall can cause tooth loss as well. Part of your tooth might break off, or the entire structure—root and all—might fall out. Wearing a mouthguard while participating in contact sports can help protect your teeth during play.
You may be more susceptible to tooth loss if you have certain diseases or have undergone some medical procedures. For example, with diabetes have double the risk of tooth loss compared to the general population. People who take immunosuppressant medications may get more oral infections, which can leave them more susceptible to losing a tooth. Poor oral hygiene can exacerbate the problem of tooth loss in vulnerable populations.
If you’ve already experienced tooth loss, it’s time to consult a dental professional about treatment options. With dental implants, for instance, you can once again have a full mouth of teeth and a confident smile.