Your teeth can tell you a lot about your overall health. That’s because even though we tend to think about dentistry as separate from other forms of medicine, your oral health is a piece of the puzzle of your overall health. Some whole-body health problems originate in the mouth, while others are identifiable by symptoms in the mouth. This means if you care about your overall health, your oral health is a key part of that picture.
Top 4 Causes of Tooth Loss
Before we touch on the link between heart disease and tooth loss, it’s important to understand what causes tooth loss. Thanks to modern dentistry, adults are keeping their natural teeth longer than ever, but certain factors still contribute to and cause tooth loss.
Gum disease is the number one cause of tooth loss and contributes to nearly 70% of lost teeth. What begins as a small infection in your gums quickly eats away the jaw bone without treatment. As the bone resorbs, your teeth will become loose and no longer stay in place. They will either fall out or need to be extracted. Gum disease can also cause a number of health issues related to the heart like an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and diabetes.
Cavities are the second most common cause of tooth loss. When a cavity goes untreated, the bacteria will eventually enter the pulp (the center of the tooth). At this point, you either need a root canal to save the tooth. If the infection gets too bad, a root canal won’t save the tooth and it will need to be extracted.
Trauma or Injury
Another common cause of tooth loss is physical trauma. This can be from a car accident, taking a bad fall, or even getting hit in the face. In some cases, a knocked-out tooth can be replaced back in the mouth.
Certain Diseases and Risk Factors
You might be at a higher risk for tooth loss and gum disease if any of the following risk factors apply to you:
- Poor nutrition
If you experience these risk factors, you should take additional actions like more frequent dental cleanings to prevent gum disease.
Link Between Tooth Loss and Heart Disease
A recent study about coronary heart disease is a new link in the chain connecting oral health and overall health. While previous studies had correlated overall tooth loss and gum disease with heart disease, these studies included teeth lost during childhood, and even included teeth that were removed as part of orthodontic work.
This new collaborative study by researchers from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health wanted to focus on tooth loss during middle age. Researchers believe this is more likely to be related to inflammation.
Gum disease is the most common cause of tooth loss at this time. As a chronic infection, gum disease causes systemic inflammation. Over the eight-year research period, the participants who lost two or more teeth were a staggering 23% more likely to have cardiovascular disease, regardless of other factors like diet, exercise, weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and diabetes. These results suggest that keeping an eye on oral health could be key to managing your risk of cardiovascular disease in middle age. Treating gum disease can protect you from heart disease and tooth loss.
Another study concluded that there was a strong correlation between those with missing teeth and those with cardiovascular disease. This is a relatively new discovery so no researchers are sure of what the exact link is yet.
5 Tips to Prevent Gum Disease
Preventing gum disease is one of your best defenses against tooth loss. Here are some helpful tips to avoid gum disease.
- Brush and Floss Your Teeth – Make sure to brush your teeth twice a day and floss at least once per day to remove plaque and bacteria from your teeth and beneath the gum line.
- Eat a Balanced Diet – Try to avoid a surplus of sugary and starchy foods. These contribute to plaque which leads to gum disease.
- Stay Hydrated – Dry mouth can lead to an increased level of bacteria in your mouth. Make sure to drink at least 64 ounces of water throughout the day.
- Avoid Smoking – Smoking and tobacco products can increase your risk of gum disease. Quitting can help prevent gum disease and therefore tooth loss.
Why You Should Replace Missing Teeth With Dental Implants
Unfortunately, once your teeth are gone, you can’t get them back. Luckily, dental implants are almost as good as having your natural teeth back. Dental implants are titanium screws that bond to the jaw similar to natural teeth. This makes them sturdy and capable of doing everything that your natural teeth can do. We cap that screw with a natural-looking crown made from advanced dental ceramic, which is durable as well as attractive.
Once complete, your dental implant will be indistinguishable from your natural teeth. Dental implants don’t just help your smile’s aesthetics; they can help counteract the negative health impacts of tooth loss, too. Your jaw bone can lose bone density if the roots of your teeth don’t stimulate it, but dental implants can prevent that from happening. Additionally, any issues with diet or oral hygiene that a gap in your teeth might cause can be mitigated by an implant.
Are you concerned about tooth loss? Call Dental Excellence of Blue Bell at (610) 272-0828 or contact us online to make an appointment with an experienced dentist in Blue Bell, PA.