As we age there’s a dental health problem we all start worrying about: tooth loss. It can happen earlier in life than you think, and it happens to a lot of people. While losing all your teeth is relatively rare just a single lost tooth that goes untreated starts a domino effect where you lose one tooth after another.
Experts have compiled a list of eight tooth loss risk factors that are a good indicator of whether you’re going to end up needing dental implants or whether you’ll just be coming to our New Albany office for routine cleanings. While you can’t control all the factors they included there are a lot that can be managed with proper healthcare, both dental and otherwise!
#1: Your Age
Here’s one of those things you can’t control. As we age our bodies change, and the cumulative effects of damage add up to start causing problems. For tooth loss the trouble age starts around 35. Once you pass that mark your chances of losing teeth increases significantly.
#2: Your Gender
Sorry, fellas: men lose a lot more teeth than women. Being male (and over the age of 35) is a double-whammy of uncontrollable tooth loss risk factors for you to deal. You’re just going to have to take the rest of them and do all you can to stay healthy!
#3: Not Brushing Your Teeth
Patients polled during a tooth loss study were asked about their brushing habits, and it wasn’t good. Of the patients with missing teeth, only 16 percent said they brushed at least twice a day. 60 percent said they rarely, if ever, brush their teeth!
If you don’t keep your teeth free of plaque bacteria you’re almost certain to end up with decay and gum disease that will lead to widespread tooth loss.
#4: Not Seeing The Dentist Regularly
The statistics regarding professional cleanings and exams sound a lot like those of brushing: around 40 percent said they’d never been to see the dentist before! Of those who had been to the dentist before only about 13 percent reported a visit within the last six months.
Tobacco smoke is a major contributor to gum disease and tooth loss. It actually changes the bacterial balance of your mouth, giving a more welcoming environment to dangerous strains that cause gum disease and tooth decay. If you’re a smoker it’s almost a guarantee that you’ll eventually lose teeth!
Patients suffering from diabetes are at extreme risk for gum disease. Diabetes actually thickens blood vessels, making it harder to get a steady oxygen supply to your gums. It also complicates things by not allowing your gums to eliminate waste. Since the system isn’t flowing correctly there’s more harmful stuff spending more time on your gums!
#7: High Blood Pressure/Hypertension
More than one in ten patients studied for gum disease also suffered from hypertension. The link, experts say, could be in either direction: either hypertension is contributing to gum disease, or (as is more widely accepted) gum disease can increase the risk of high blood pressure.
There is a definite connection between menopause and gum disease, however. Women who are post-menopausal have nearly the same risk of contracting gum disease as a man!
#8: Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatism is an inflammatory disease that causes joint pain because the tissues around the joint become swollen and irritated. Inflammation is one of the standard signs of gum disease as well, and if your body isn’t able to regulate its inflammatory response it can just keep getting worse!
What You Can Do To Prevent Tooth Loss
We just gave you quite the list of potential risk factors – it might be a bit of information overload! If you noticed that something in your health history is on this list don’t ignore it. Whether you need to come see us for a dental cleaning and exam or you need to see your doctor to be checked for signs of rheumatism, diabetes, or hypertension you need to do it – the alternative could be complete tooth loss.
Don’t forget that these are just risk factors – they aren’t guarantees that you’ll develop gum disease. Good dental care, both in the office and at home, can go a long way toward making risk factors less likely to become serious dangers.