How to Prevent Tooth Loss As You Age

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How to Prevent Tooth Loss As You Age

Tooth loss is a common problem for older adults—according to the CDC, around 26% of people who are 65 or older have 8 teeth or less. If you have missing teeth, it can affect your self-confidence and your quality of life. But losing your teeth doesn’t have to be a natural part of aging. Let’s take a look at the causes of tooth loss and how you can prevent it. 

What Causes Tooth Loss in Older Adults?

1. Gum Disease

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults. It attacks not only the gums, but the root of the tooth and the jawbone as well. When this chronic infection goes untreated, it can cause bone loss and weaken the structures that support your teeth. Gum disease has no cure, however, there are treatments that can halt its progression.

2. Cavities

Without treatment, cavities only grow larger and lead to severe decay that can result in tooth loss. If you have any tooth pain or notice any brown spots on your teeth, make a dentist appointment. Whether you need a filling or a crown, repairing your tooth as soon as possible can save it.

3. Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Whether you’re aware of it or not, grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can do a lot of damage. The pressure of habitual grinding can cause teeth to become loose and eventually fall out. However, as long as you’re going to your checkups, your dentist should be able to spot the signs before your bruxism does any serious harm.

4. Injuries

Dental conditions aren’t the only cause of tooth loss. Sometimes an accident or injury can knock a tooth right out of its socket. If this happens, you have about a 1-hour window to get to the dentist and save your tooth.

How to Prevent Tooth Loss As You Age

1. Maintain Good Oral Hygiene Habits

The primary causes of dental problems like gum disease and cavities are plaque and tartar buildup. Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time and flossing daily is crucial in removing plaque. Good oral hygiene also means taking good care of any dental restorations you have, such as flossing underneath a dental bridge or cleaning and soaking your dentures. 

2. Limit Sugary and Acidic Foods

Sodas, energy drinks, candy, citrus fruits, juice, coffee, and other sugary and acidic foods and beverages can do some major damage to your teeth. When bacteria feed on sugars they produce acids that weaken the tooth enamel and cause cavities. Try to choose sugar-free options when possible, and limit your consumption of sugary and acidic foods and drinks.  

3. Manage Dry Mouth Conditions

Dry mouth is a frequent complaint in older adults, because it is a side effect of many common medications. When you have dry mouth, your body can’t produce enough saliva. This makes it easier for plaque to multiply, greatly increasing your risk of cavities and gum disease. 

You can manage dry mouth symptoms by:

  • Drinking plenty of water
  • Sucking on sugar-free candy to stimulate saliva flow
  • Using alcohol-free mouthwash
  • Adjusting your medications with your doctor’s guidance

4. Wear a Nightguard to Prevent Bruxism

If you wake up every morning with toothaches, jaw pain, or headaches, you might be suffering from sleep bruxism. Grinding your teeth at night can do a significant amount of damage—it wears down your enamel and can even crack your teeth. Wearing a custom-fitting nightguard can help reduce the symptoms of bruxism and prevent tooth loss. 

5. Quit Smoking

Around 43% of adult cigarette smokers aged 65 or older have lost all of their teeth. This is because smoking weakens the body’s ability to fight off infections like gum disease. Quitting smoking lowers your risk of gum disease, and makes it easier to treat if you already have it.  

Dentist for Seniors in Sun Lakes, Arizona

Regular visits to the dentist are essential in preventing tooth loss. Only a professional cleaning can remove tartar buildup, and exams can expose the early signs of dental conditions that lead to tooth loss. At Dr. Saba and Associates, we offer treatment for gum disease, bruxism, cavities, and more. We can also replace missing teeth with high quality bridges or dentures. Give us a call at 480-895-2111 today to make an appointment. 


Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (10/30/2023). Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels