If someone asked you what the #1 cause of tooth loss is in people over age 35, what would you guess?
If you’re like most people, you would probably guess that it’s cavities.
Unfortunately…you’d be wrong.
It is generally accepted that the leading cause of tooth loss in people over 35 is periodontitis, more commonly known as gum disease. In people under 35, cavities are the leading cause of tooth loss.
Teeth are normally held firmly in place under your gums by a strong bone called alveolar bone.
You Can Lose Teeth That Are In Perfect Condition
If you’ve brushed your teeth every day of your life and kept them in perfect condition with no cavities, but you’ve never flossed then you might be in trouble. There are many people who believe that brushing is enough. But while they are preventing cavities, their lack of flossing is causing other unseen effects on their gums.
Over the years, a lack of flossing will take its toll on your gum health. Your gums will recede due to the constant irritation they’ve had from bacteria that hasn’t been removed by flossing. Soon enough, your teeth begin to loosen and can even fall out if your gums are not cared for.
The x-ray below shows two teeth that have lost nearly half of the support from their bony foundation.
Your Gums Are the Foundation
In a healthy mouth, each tooth in your mouth is firmly gripped by strong, healthy alveolar bone. Hopefully the building you’re in right now is rooted firmly in the ground by a strong foundation.
Try to imagine a beautiful home anchored firmly on top of a large hill by a strong foundation. Let’s compare this house to a tooth.
As gingivitis progresses to periodontitis (gum disease), the bone that holds your teeth in place gradually erodes away. This is similar to hundreds of rainstorms gradually washing away the dirt that surrounds the foundation of a house.
If enough dirt washes away, the house could eventually find itself on unstable ground and fall over. Even if everything else on the house was in perfect condition, it could still fall.
This is the same in the mouth. Even if you have a tooth that has never had a cavity, it can fall out due to a lack of support from the alveolar bone.
You now know that gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in people over age 35.
One of the best ways to prevent gum disease is to floss daily. Flossing helps dislodge the bacteria that get stuck down between your teeth and gums. Ordinary brushing can’t remove these bacteria, only flossing can get rid of them.
Do you have any questions or comments about gum disease? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back to you.