Most of us are taught from a very early age of the need to take care of our teeth. Learning how to brush and floss them and it’s highly likely that we are told sugary foods will cause cavities. However, there are still other factors that can affect your teeth and being aware of these can help to preserve your natural teeth, we hope for life. Listed below are five common reasons for tooth loss.
1. Eating Too Many Acidic Foods
You might know that eating too many sugary foods is bad for your teeth, but are you aware of exactly why this is and the effect of acid on your teeth? Whenever you eat something sugary or which is high in carbohydrates, acidity levels in your mouth dramatically increase. Acid levels remain high for approximately half an hour to an hour after eating before they gradually begin to normalize. This is due to disease-causing bacteria using these foods for energy.
As they thrive they create acid as a by-product. While some foods may be high in sugars, others are naturally high in acid, making this problem even worse. When acid comes into contact with your teeth it causes a problem called acid erosion. This is where your tooth enamel becomes softer and more vulnerable to tooth decay because some of the essential minerals that include calcium and phosphate are removed.
Your tooth enamel remains softer all the while acidity levels in the mouth are still high. As they gradually return to normal, some of the minerals that were removed from your tooth enamel are redeposited as they will still be in your saliva. However, not all the minerals are redeposited so over time eating a diet that is high in acidic foods will gradually weaken your teeth.
What to Do
Paying attention to your diet can reduce the effects of acid erosion. When eating foods that are high in sugars or acids, try to include them in a main meal rather than as a snack. This will minimize the amount of time your teeth are exposed to acids, reducing the damage. When brushing your teeth after a meal, wait for half an hour to an hour so your tooth enamel can re-harden as the acidity decreases.
Brushing soft and tooth enamel will damage your teeth even more.
2. Dental Injuries
Every year lots of people will suffer from cracked, broken or even knocked out teeth often when playing sports. Accidental damage to your teeth and jaws can easily occur if you love playing sports and where there is a chance of taking a blow to the mouth. Unfortunately, this can lead to hours in the dental chair and you may need a lifetime of restorative dental work.
What to Do
Ideally, it’s best to try and prevent the damage from occurring in the first place by getting your dentist to provide you with a custom-made, sports mouthguard. This provides maximum protection and is thickened in critical areas and most importantly it’s comfortable to wear. Wearing a properly made mouthguard will greatly reduce your risk of dental injuries. If you do knock out a tooth then there’s a chance it may be re-implanted, but only if you act quickly.
Carefully pick up the tooth and rinse off any dirt. If you feel able, you can try to replace the tooth yourself but make sure it is facing the correct way. Hold it in place with a clean finger or bite down on a clean tissue and get your dentist straight away. Alternatively, store the tooth in some milk or saliva, or even inside your cheek. Visit your dentist immediately as it’s only generally impossible to reinsert the tooth within the initial half an hour to an hour after the accident.
Smoking doesn’t only give you bad breath and discolored teeth, it can make you lose teeth completely. Smokers are far more at risk of developing a periodontal disease which is a severe gum infection. This condition can frequently lead to tooth loss without prompt treatment. The problem with smoking is that it affects your gums ability to heal and to fight infection.
Smoking narrows the blood vessels supplying nutrients to the gums as well as the blood vessels responsible for taking away toxins. When the periodontal disease first develops, it often causes the gums to bleed. In smokers, this worrying symptom may be absent because of the way smoking affects the gum tissues.
What to Do
Ideally, quit smoking but otherwise make sure you get regular checkups with your dentist and if you see any signs of gum disease then visit a periodontist. Potential symptoms include red, swollen gums that may feel sore if you lightly press them. You might also notice your gums have begun to recede because of the infection.
4. Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor oral hygiene can frequently cause gum disease or periodontal disease which is the number one reason for tooth loss. Failing to brush and floss your teeth regularly quickly allows disease-causing bacteria to colonize your gums. This gradually destroying your gum tissue and other structures surrounding your teeth, this means they will eventually become loose.
What to Do
You must brush your teeth at least twice a day and you must floss once a day. Regular checkups and cleanings are also extremely important because they allow your dentist to pick up on any early signs of gum disease. When detected soon enough, gum disease is curable but can become chronic if you ignore it. You’ll also find your hygienist can give you useful information about how to improve your oral hygiene so that you can brush and floss more effectively.
5. Teeth Grinding and Clenching
Tooth grinding and clenching is a problem called bruxism and it normally happens at night. Many people will clench and grind their teeth occasionally, but when it becomes a habit it can wear down your teeth and may also affect your gums, causing gum recession. In the worst cases, bruxism can completely wear down teeth to nothing more than stumps and can even cause tooth loss.
What to Do
Your dentist can diagnose bruxism and can soon prescribe the correct treatment. Normally this will involve wearing a night splint that is custom-made to fit over your teeth and which prevents you from clenching and grinding. If the worst does happen then don’t despair because often people who have suffered from tooth loss are suitable for dental implants. This is an advanced way to replace missing teeth and is a long-lasting solution for tooth loss.
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