How Tooth Loss Affects Your Health
Your body is an intricate system, like a machine, and when one function changes it can affect the rest of the body in a myriad of ways. It shouldn’t be a surprise that your oral health can influence the rest of your body. When one tooth is lost it can affect your overall health as well.
How Does Tooth Loss Occur?
Tooth loss can occur in one of three ways: by neglect, accident, or age.
Neglecting your teeth means refusing to brush or floss, not visiting the dentist for hygiene appointments, or not using the correct tools to clean your teeth. As a result of these bad habits, your teeth are more susceptible to oral health conditions like gum disease or tooth decay. Untreated, these diseases can easily lead to tooth loss.
Accidents, such as physical trauma to the face, have also resulted in tooth loss. We’ve had patients who lost a tooth when they fell off their bike, bit into a hard apple, or were playing football with their friends.
Regardless of how you lost your teeth, we understand first-hand the devastating effects of tooth loss on a patient’s health and well-being. By investing in dental implants, patients can put a stop to the long-term effects of tooth loss and restore their smile.
The Risks Of Tooth Loss
As we said before, the human body is like a machine, so when one piece goes out of whack it can influence other areas of the body. What follows are common risks that tooth loss patients have experienced:
- Periodontal Disease: When you lose a tooth, it’s essentially an open wound exposed to possible infections. Bacteria can easily get in and inflame the tissues around the site. Infection can spread to other areas of your gum tissue and lead to periodontal disease (a more extreme form of gum disease).
- Cardiovascular Problems: Research has shown that the types of bacteria that cause gum disease can also travel to other areas of the body, such as the heart and arteries. These bacteria can inflame the tissues in these systems, leading to an increased risk for heart attacks and strokes.
- Risks to Pregnancy: Losing a tooth to gum disease is one thing, but it’s also dangerous for a mom-to-be as well. Gum disease bacteria is also linked to premature births, putting both mother and child at risk.
- Poor Nutrition: When you start to lose more than one tooth, it can influence what you can eat. You may find that it’s not as easy to uphold a healthy diet, or may need to change how your food is prepared to accommodate your inability to chew properly.
Stages of Tooth Loss
Let’s start at the first time you lose a tooth. Other than a noticeable gap in your teeth, you may not notice a huge difference in your eating or speaking abilities. But underneath the skin, your jawbone is already beginning to deteriorate in small stages. Within one year of losing a tooth, that area of your jawbone can decrease in volume by 25%.
If you start to lose more teeth, your jawbone will continue to reduce in volume and density. The gum tissues may also start to reduce or even recede from the surfaces of neighboring teeth. Without the support of both of these tissues, teeth will become noticeably more loose.
The decrease in jawbone also leads to a loss of facial support, which becomes more evident on the surface of your skin. Your cheeks start to hollow and wrinkles appear around the lips.
When you reach the stage of losing all of your teeth, the jawbone deteriorates to a point where your chin becomes more prominent, forced upwards toward your nose. Bite collapse occurs as the back teeth are lost, making it difficult to chew food or speak clearly. Your cheeks hollow out more significantly.
What Are The Psychological Effects Of Missing Teeth?
In 2008, the Academy of General Dentistry surveyed 1,100 of their dental caregivers, asking them to identify the most common effects of tooth loss on their patients. After collecting their responses, the survey revealed that 86% of patients cited social embarrassment; 66% said emotional pain; and 68.7% claimed they were stricken with self-consciousness.
As dental care providers, we have long understood the emotional side of tooth loss, and have also seen these emotional responses as reasons why patients didn’t pursue treatment. Some patients also were not well-informed about their tooth replacement options.
It’s why we recommend dental implants to all of our tooth loss patients. These implants can fill the gap in your smile and remain there for years, often beyond the lifespans of other dental devices. We’ve seen the emotional impact that dental implants have had on our patients, and we want the same experience for you.
Why Dental Implants Are The Best Choice
Ever since their inception in the 1960s, dental implants are the tried-and-true choice for tooth replacement. They are nearly invisible in your smile, look and feel natural, and can even help your jawbone and tissues recover from tooth loss trauma.
Thanks to the process of osseointegration (which you can read more about here), dental implants are also permanent and durable, able to withstand the natural pressures of textured foods. Compared to dentures or dental bridges, which are attached loosely to the teeth, dental implants are far superior in functionality and easy maintenance as well.
Discover Your Candidacy For Dental Implants
The first step on your journey to a complete smile is to contact Herman Family Dentistry to schedule a consultation. You’ll be evaluated for candidacy, discuss your options with Dr. Herman, and make a decision on how you want to proceed. Don’t hesitate to take that first step towards a healthier smile today.
Gum disease is one of the most prevalent dental problems, as it affects half of all American adults. Often left untreated, periodontitis soon follows and its symptoms can eventually lead to tooth loss and permanent damage.
While many people neglect treatment for gum disease, it’s best remedied early since there are three stages, and it does get progressively worse. Discover more about gum disease and how it can take its toll on your smile.
The Prevalence of Gum Disease
- 8.7% of Americans over 30 have mild gum disease (gingivitis)
- 30% of Americans over 30 have moderate gum disease (periodontitis)
- 8.5% of Americans over 30 have severe gum disease (advanced periodontitis)
Gum disease is such a widespread problem that it affects half of all Americans over the age of 30. Since it’s most often diagnosed by a dentist, many sufferers aren’t aware they have gum disease. This creates a dangerous cycle, because the disease progresses over time if not treated quickly.
How Gum Disease Develops
Gum disease develops when plaque accumulates near the gumline and causes the gum tissue to become infected. When left untreated, the condition worsens as pockets form in the gums and the infection spreads. Eventually, the fibers that hold the teeth in place are irreparably damaged and these later stages may require surgery for the patient to make a full recovery.
Does Gum Disease Affect those with Dental Implants?
Yes! If patients have gum disease, it will have to be treated before dental implant surgery can take place. The reasons are that there are multiple aspects of dental implant surgery that have to be successfully completed, otherwise it’s not worth the risk of gum disease jeopardizing the procedure and health of the patient.
If you currently have dental implants, gum disease can still be a potential threat to your health, so it’s important to practice good dental hygiene and treat gum disease at the offset.
Three Stages of Gum Disease
Gum disease can be a problem of mild severity or one that causes great pain and puts your teeth at risk. In fact, it’s vital to treat gum disease as soon as possible – otherwise, it will get significantly worse.
These are the three stages of gum disease:
As the mildest stage, red, swollen gums are bound to be the first sign of gum disease patients will notice. There may be irritability or pain when brushing, flossing, and eating. While you won’t lose teeth when you have gingivitis, you might start to see infected pockets forming in your gums.
When gingivitis is left untreated, it evolves into periodontitis. With periodontitis, the infected pockets in the gums are more prevalent and larger than they were previously, and there may be permanent damage to the fibers that hold the teeth into place.
3. Advanced Periodontitis
The most severe form of gum disease is advanced periodontitis. At this stage, every function involving your mouth is likely to lead to pain and discomfort, and your teeth are in legitimate danger of falling out. Treatment at this stage is likely to be surgery, such as a gum grafting procedure.
How Do We Treat Your Gum Disease?
While exact plans for treating gum disease may vary by patient, certain procedures are commonly used for treating it in its various stages.
Treatments like scaling and root planing and gum grafting are used to clean and restore the mouth to a healthy condition. Explore some of the treatments that are most often used for fighting gum disease.
Scaling and Root Planing
For mild and moderate forms of gum disease, scaling and root planing treatment may be used to clean the teeth all the way down to their roots. This process is often known as a deep cleaning, and it is extremely effective in getting rid of plaque and bacteria that can lead to gum disease.
Certain medications can cause gum disease and others can eliminate it. Since gum disease is caused by an excess of bacteria in the mouth, decreasing this bacteria can be effective in fighting the disease. It’s important to tell your dentist which medications you’re on so they know if any of them are exacerbating the problem.
For patients with advanced periodontitis, surgery may be required to restore gum tissue to where it’s needed in the mouth. Gum grafts are one of the most common surgeries used to fight gum disease.
The goal of a gum graft is to take gum tissue from one part of the mouth and place it in a spot where the gums have become infected. This encourages the tissue to grow back and reform a healthy layer of gum tissue.
Save Your Health Today
Dr. Herman is experienced in a wide range of dental treatments and can help you and your family keep your smiles healthy for years to come.
While many people neglect their dental care, resulting in the need for expensive treatments down the line, you can keep your smile strong by attending your biannual appointments. Contact us today if you’re ready to schedule your next one at Herman Family Dentistry.