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Why Do People Lose Their Teeth?

April 30, 2016
Posted By: Dr. Thomas Riley, DMD
Man With Tooth Pain | Azalea Dental

Some people may wonder why dentists always tell them that if they want to keep their teeth, they need to take care of them. Some even assume that the only time they need to see a dentist is for an extraction.

It might surprise you to learn that most dentists use extraction only as the last resort if the tooth decay has spread into the gums and nearby teeth. If the tooth still has enough healthy material, the tooth may be root canaled, filled or crowned.

So, why do people need to have teeth extracted?

The Reason Why Dentists Extract Your Tooth

There are several reasons a dentist might recommend an extraction. Here are the most plausible reasons.

  • You have a crowded dental arch. This can happen if one or some of your baby teeth fail to fall out on their own and the permanent tooth erupts anyway, or if the teeth kind of overlap side-by-side instead lining up straight.
  • You have an impacted tooth. Wisdom teeth or any tooth that can’t erupt (come up through the gum) may cause pain, crowding and infection. In such case, the tooth that can’t erupt will be removed.
  • Periodontal disease. Periodontal (gum) disease is actually the No. 1 reason for tooth loss or dental extractions. In severe cases, the gum tissue can no longer hold the tooth in place, or there’s a risk of the infection spreading to the surrounding teeth.
  • Filling or Root canal isn’t enough. In some cases, tooth decay may not be completely cleaned out by drilling and filling or root canal treatment, or the infection has spread from the tooth to the gums and other teeth. Even if the pulp was removed, the infection might remain.
  • Fracture or Cracked tooth or root. If a fracture or crack in the enamel runs deep enough or directly affects the root, extraction may be the only option if the structure of the tooth is beyond repair.

How Permanent Teeth Fall Out (On Their Own)

Contrary to most people’s beliefs, tooth decay is not the cause of tooth loss; gum disease is. The teeth are supported by the jawbone and the gums, which hold the teeth in place. If the gums recede too far, there’s nothing to hold the teeth and they can fall out.

This can happen when bacteria and plaque enter the gum lining and result in gingivitis. The infection makes the gums weak, tender and swollen. When infected, the gums begin to pull away from the tooth. As the infection worsens and the gums shrink deeper, the tooth root becomes exposed. The bacteria continue to eat away the cementum that protects the tooth root. The end result is the tooth root either loosens due to the lack of gum support, or gets eaten by bacteria and the entire tooth falls from its place.

What Can You Do to Prevent Tooth Loss?

To avoid any of these unwanted dental problems that can result in tooth loss, here are some tips you can follow.

  • Use an interdental brush. An interdental brush can clean between the teeth, like a floss but with bristles. If you already have gingivitis, you should use an interdental brush frequently to keep the bacteria from forming into plaque.
  • Floss in between brushings. Flossing can help keep bacteria from reproducing by removing the leftover food particles between and around your teeth while you haven’t brushed yet.
  • Minimize the consumption of sticky and sweet foods. Sticky foods get stuck between the gum lining and sweets feed bacteria, increasing the risk of gum disease.
  • Don’t disregard the signs of gum disease. If your gums bleed easily or you have tenderness and pain in your mouth, consult your dentist right away.
  • Don’t miss your dental check-up. Your dentist can examine signs of gum disease and treat it right away. Early intervention is key to keeping your teeth healthy.

So you see, it all boils down to proper dental care and prevention of gum disease. Since gum disease and tooth decay are interlinked, ignoring the signs of gum disease can result in worse complications like tooth loss.The best solution is to pay more attention to your oral health, whether it involves the teeth, gums or even the throat. And don’t forget to visit Azalea Dental Clinic every six months to get a regular check-up! Early intervention makes a huge difference when it comes to preventing the need for extraction.

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