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Is Tooth Loss an Inevitable Part of Aging?

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Is Tooth Loss an Inevitable Part of Aging?

Tooth loss and aging

Some senior citizens are under the mistaken impression that as we age, tooth loss is inevitable. Although losing baby teeth is completely normal, losing adult teeth is not. Tooth loss is far from inevitable. While time and age can cause a decline in oral health, it is not age itself that causes tooth loss and other problems. Learn ways to preserve your teeth to last a lifetime!

Major Causes of Tooth Loss

Periodontal Disease

The most common cause of tooth loss among the aging generation is not aging, but rather periodontal disease, which slowly wears down the supporting tissues in the mouth, often leading to tooth loss. Periodontal disease becomes more likely as you age, both because plaque and tartar accumulate over time, and because oral hygiene may become more difficult as you age. If you’re not affected by serious periodontal disease, you may only need a few pointers to make daily brushing easier, such as using an electric toothbrush. However, if you currently suffer from periodontal disease, then regular treatment and maintenance at Premier Dentistry of Eagle is crucial. 

Periodontal or gum disease, is an inflammatory condition of the gum and bone support (periodontal tissues) surrounding the teeth. The two most common periodontal diseases are:

Gingivitis – Inflammation of the Gums

The initial stage of gum disease is characterized by redness of the gums, swelling and bleeding when brushing. Acute gingivitis is usually associated with specific infections, micro-organisms, or trauma. Chronic inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth is associated with plaque that covers the teeth and gums. Gingivitis was once seen as the first stage in a chronic degenerative process which resulted in the loss of both gum and bone tissue surrounding the teeth. It is now recognized that gingivitis can be reversed by effective personal oral hygiene practices.

How do you prevent gingivitis? The solution is to remove the bacterial plaque from around the teeth and gums with a toothbrush and floss. Toothbrushing  and flossing should be part of your daily routine, regardless of your age.

Periodontitis – Inflammation Affecting the Bone and Tissues of the Teeth

When gum disease affects the bone and supporting tissue, it is termed periodontitis and is characterized by the formation of pockets or spaces between the tooth and gums. This may cause chronic periodontal destruction leading to loosening or loss of teeth.

One of the challenges for early detection of periodontal disease is that it doesn’t cause pain and can progress unnoticed. In its early stages, bleeding gums during tooth brushing may be the only sign; as the disease advances and the gums deteriorate, the bleeding may stop and there may be no further obvious sign until the teeth start to feel loose. In most cases, periodontal disease responds to treatment and although the destruction is largely irreversible, its progression can be stopped with dental treatment.

The rate of progression varies, and research has shown a correlation with other factors, such as those with compromised immune systems, diabetes, HIV infection, leukemia and Down syndrome.

Regular Dental Appointments with Dr. Shane S. Porter are Crucial

Patients in need of gum disease treatment and periodontal maintenance are often encouraged to visit Dr. Porter more than twice a year, depending on your exact circumstances. This may sound like a lot, but most people visit their dentist twice a year! Once periodontal disease has set in, more frequent care is necessary to keep the disease from progressing. Regular dental care has a profound effect on your likelihood of keeping your teeth. Gumming your food at any age is unappealing, unless you are a baby. Chewing a fresh, crisp salad or a medium rare steak is one of life’s simple pleasures! Do what you can to preserve your ability to have healthy teeth and gums throughout your life. 

Factors That Affect Periodontal Disease

Smoking and diabetes are risk factors for periodontal disease. Diet and stress have also been linked to periodontal health. This may simply be due to the fact that individuals under stress might be less likely to practice regular good oral hygiene. The majority of people can effectively avoid gum disease by removing plaque from your teeth on a daily basis and regular check-ups with Dr. Porter.

As if you needed another reason to brush and floss on a daily basis, periodontal disease is also linked to an increased susceptibility to systemic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, infective endocarditis (an infection in the heart valves or endocardium), bacterial pneumonia, and diabetes.

Proper Nutrition

Good nutrition is emphasized over and over, but did you know that in addition to all the other associated health problems, not getting the proper vitamins and minerals can cause tooth loss?  A diet lacking calcium can increase your risk of tooth loss, and if you consume too much sugar, acid, or carbohydrate-rich food, you may unknowingly damage your teeth and gums. The lack of proper nutrients, can negatively affect the mouth, teeth and gums which leads to an increased risk of gum disease and other oral health-related problems.

Unhealthy Habits

Statistics show that those who smoke are twice as likely to experience tooth loss as those who do not. Other bad habits such as drinking alcohol, opening packages with your teeth, or chewing ice and hard candy can weaken or break your teeth at any age, but as you get older the risk factors increase.  

The best thing that you can do to ensure a healthy smile for years to come is to brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily, and visit Premier Dentistry of Eagle as often as Dr. Porter recommends in your individual case. If you haven’t already scheduled your next dental checkup, contact us today online, or call (208) 546-0655.

Premier Dentistry of Eagle is located in Eagle, Idaho at 467 South Rivershore Lane and is easily accessible to patients in the surrounding communities of Star, Middleton, Meridian, Garden City, and Boise. 

A healthy smile is appealing at any age! Apples are in season and so is having a healthy set of teeth to chew them with! 

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