Edentulism, the loss of all or most of your natural teeth, can have a profound effect on your life. Fortunately, dentists offer tooth replacement options that can restore your smile.
The Facts About Edentulism
Thanks to increased awareness of the importance of oral hygiene, edentulism isn't quite as common as it once was, but still affects a significant number of people. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports that 3.75 percent of adults ages 20 to 64 have lost all of their teeth. The number of people who have experienced total tooth loss rises with age. Just over 27 percent of people over 65 have no teeth, according to the Institute.
What Are the Risk Factors for Edentulism?
Several factors can increase your risk of losing all of your teeth, including poor oral hygiene and lack of dental care. You're more likely to develop cavities and gum disease if you don't brush and floss regularly. Unfortunately, if your cavity isn't treated promptly, the decay will spread to nearby teeth.
Visiting the dentist every six months is the best way to ensure that cavities are spotted and treated quickly. During those visits, plaque and tartar will also be removed from your teeth. Tartar, a hard deposit that forms when plaque isn't removed, can cause gum disease. The disease not only causes your gums to pull away from your teeth, which can loosen them but may also trigger an infection in your jawbone.
Other factors that may increase your edentulism risk include:
- Smoking or Chewing Tobacco
- Poor Nutrition
- Infections and Diseases
- Lack of Dental Care
- Chemotherapy, Radiation and Other Treatments
Why Is Edentulism a Serious Problem?
It's not surprising that total tooth loss can lead to lower self-esteem. After all, society places great importance on a bright, perfect smile. Tooth loss is only part of the problem. Without teeth to stimulate and strengthen your jawbone, your facial muscles will begin to sag, making you look older. In addition to concerns about the way you look, you may also find it harder to communicate. Teeth play an important role in your ability to pronounce words and speak clearly. Without them, you may struggle to make yourself understood.
Tooth loss also affects your health. When you can't chew foods, you may resort to eating a soft diet or swallowing foods without chewing them. In many cases, the foods you can eat comfortably won't contain all of the nutrients you need, which may affect your health and your body's ability to fight off infections. A review published by the International Journal of Dentistry discovered that edentulism raises the risk of peptic ulcers, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, heart disease, stroke, gastrointestinal and pancreatic cancers, and kidney disease.
What Are Tooth Replacement Options Available?
Both full dentures and dental implants can help you restore your teeth. One denture consists of a row of artificial teeth embedded in a pink base. Removable dentures rest again your gums and are held in place with denture cream and suction.
Dental implants offer a more permanent solution to edentulism. Titanium implants replace tooth roots and actually bond to your jawbone. Once bonding occurs, dentures can be attached to the implants. Denture wearers usually need four to eight implants to support one denture. Both removable and fixed implant-supported dentures are available.
Don't let edentulism ruin your smile. Call us to learn how we can help you restore your teeth and improve your life.
International Journal of Dentistry: The Impact of Edentulism on Oral and General Health, 5/8/13
Consumer Guide to Dentistry: Edentulism: Causes and Consequences of Tooth Loss
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: Tooth Loss in Adults (Age 20 to 64)
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research: Tooth Loss in Seniors (Age 65 and Over)
Smoking, Gum Disease, and Tooth Loss
CDC: Frequently Asked Questions - Personal Protective Equipment (Masks, Protective Eyewear, Protective Apparel, Gloves)
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Why Does My Dentist Wear a Mask?
Have you ever wondered why your dentist wears a mask during your examination or treatment? Masks protect both of you. Although your dentist wouldn't work with patients if he or she was sick, diseases and viruses can be spread before any symptoms of illnesses appear. Wearing a mask that covers the nose and mouth helps your dentist ensure that illnesses aren't passed on to you during the treatment.
Masks also protect your dentist and the entire dental team from coming in contact with saliva and blood. Donning a new mask for every patient prevents you from being exposed to germs or blood-borne diseases from other patients. During your treatment, you and the dentist will also probably wear protective eyewear. Although those goggles might not be very fashionable, they keep blood, debris, saliva and germs from entering your body through your eyes.