We spend our younger years avoiding the dentist as much as possible. Some do so by taking excellent care of their teeth, requiring only a cleaning every six months, but the majority would rather ignore coming to terms with the state of their teeth, often due to admittedly neglectful oral hygiene habits. However, as we get older, hair begins to grey, and fine lines and wrinkles become more noticeable; we realize that taking care of our teeth is a health priority and no longer a hassle.
The threat of losing teeth becomes more imminent as we age, and a future of wearing dentures and extensive oral surgery doesn’t seem too enticing. Considering that good oral health is a strong indicator of better overall wellbeing, it’s never too soon to make some changes. The good news is that preventing tooth loss isn’t too difficult, and even middle-aged people can take some critical steps to improve their oral health and reduce the occurrence of tooth loss in the decades to come.
Statistics on Tooth Loss
Many people don’t worry about tooth loss until it’s too late or unavoidable. While there are many amazing advancements in dentistry to remedy the circumstance, such as implants, bridges, and implants, the best thing everyone can do is avoid tooth loss altogether. The statistics about tooth loss are the best way to paint a realistic picture of what’s to come for most Americans who take sub-par care of their teeth.
- 26% of adults 65 or older have 8 or fewer teeth
- 1 in 6 adults 65 or older have lost all their teeth
- 178 million Americans are missing at least 1 tooth
- 40 million Americans are missing all of their teeth
- Older people who are socio-economically disadvantaged, have less than high school education, and are smokers are 3 times more at risk of losing their teeth
- 30% of adults over 65 have no natural teeth
Most people over the age of 65 today suffer from high rates of gum disease, dental decay, oral cancer, oral infections, and tooth loss—but these issues can be prevented, even if they can’t be entirely eliminated. The key is to take special care and notice certain habits and developing problems before they become dire.
The tissue we have surrounding our teeth begins to deteriorate as we age, which is a natural process. Still, it’s the tissue that holds our teeth into their sockets! However, many factors can accelerate that process and cause significant issues for people as early as their mid-20s. The causes of gum recession aren’t always so clear, and many factors are at play, so it’s essential to get the full scope of conditions that can cause the disorder.
- Genetics: about 30% of people have a predisposition to gum disease as some regions of the world have less favorable dental hereditary genes
- Periodontal disease: a bacterial infection of the gums can lead to more problems later in life
- Tobacco use: smoking and chewing tobacco use increases the risk of excess plaque on teeth, which can be a precursor to gum disease
- Brushing hard: pushing too hard onto the gums while brushing will wear away at them quickly. Even those who are very strict about their oral health are guilty of this.
- Poor dental care: regular cleanings and checkups are essential for avoiding bigger issues in regards to teeth and gums
- Bruxism: poor bite patterns and crooked teeth can cause more plaque to accumulate, thus eroding gums
Prevent Tooth Loss
Most often, the easiest way to prevent tooth loss is to maintain good oral health throughout life. We understand that not everyone has access to dental care early on in life, especially during childhood. There are many ways people can improve their overall dental wellness later on in life in their 20s, 30s, and 40s with preventative results.
- Brushing teeth regularly: using fluoride toothpaste twice a day and using floss to get rid of plaque and food particles
- Using flossers: water flossing devices or small picks and brushes can help with removing plaque and particles that build up gum-destroying bacteria
- Mouthwash: although it shouldn’t replace brushing and flossing, mouth rinses can kill off gum-harming bacteria in the mouth
- Minimizing wear and tear: minimizing acidic food and drinks can help preserve gum tissue and bone density to help keep teeth intact
- Regular checkups: dentist visits don’t have to be a drag. Once a patient is up-to-date on their oral care, cleanings are a breeze
Cost of Care
Many people avoid going to the dentist due to prohibitive cost restrictions. The reality is that holding off on regular and affordable checkups and cleanings can prevent a future of costly implants and dentures needed to tooth loss due to neglect.
There are affordable dental care plans, and many dental offices have in-house savings plans that benefit patients who need more extensive work. Groups like AARP and Medicare also help those who need to improve their dental care on a budget.
Sadly, that isn’t the case, because most young people aren’t worried about what will happen to their teeth and mouths down the line. The idea of tooth loss is severe enough to dissuade most from avoiding taking care of their teeth, and it should! It’s vital to young people of the consequences of not taking proper care of their gums and teeth as a future of dentures and implants is one that should be avoided, if possible.