Your teeth were designed by God to last a lifetime. In order to maintain them and their supporting gum and bone structures in a healthy state, daily oral hygiene is required. This involves brushing the teeth with fluoride toothpaste after every meal, and flossing at least once a day. We also recommend the use of a fluoride mouthwash daily to prevent decay.
Care & Prevention:
There are two main ways people lose their teeth. One way people lose their teeth is through a disease process, the two most common forms of which are decay and gum disease. Decay is caused by the bacteria in a person’s mouth metabolizing sugar in their diet to form acids that dissolve the enamel from the teeth. This allows the bacteria access to the dentin underneath the tooth enamel resulting in a cavity. Gum disease is caused by bacteria overwhelming the gum tissue’s ability to fight off that infection. If too many bacteria are allowed to remain along the gum line from day to day, the gum tissue will become inflamed. This results in the gum tissue being swollen, red, and bleeding easily. Although this is common, this is not normal or healthy. If the infection, which at this point is called gingivitis, is not controlled, it will progress to periodontitis, and will attack the supporting bone structure of the teeth. If left unchecked, the infection will cause the bone levels to recede, resulting in loss of support for the teeth, and eventually, loss of the teeth themselves. This is the most common way to lose teeth, as ninety-eight percent of adults in the United States experience decay, and nearly one hundred percent of adults have experience with gingivitis.
Q. How can I prevent this?
A. It is important to remember that whenever you eat something sweet, the bacterial plaque in your mouth is saturated with sugar, and for 20 minutes, the bacteria produce acid that causes decay. This is a significant fact, given that if you have pop with sugar in it, and you drink that pop in five minutes, you have decay producing activity going on for the five minutes while you are drinking the pop, and then for 20 minutes afterwards. If instead, you drink your can of pop at your desk, and every 20 minutes, took a sip of it, and it took you the entire morning to finish the pop, you would have decay producing activity going on the entire morning. The prevention of both decay and gum disease is accomplished with daily brushing, flossing, and fluoride mouthwash usage. Studies show that using a fluoride mouthwash results in a 40% reduction in decay over just brushing and flossing.
The other major cause of tooth loss is unbalanced forces. An extreme example of which would be an accident, such as a car or sports accident, where a tooth is knocked out. Another form of unbalanced forces can come from a person’s bite being off, resulting in clenching or grinding of their teeth. The forces exerted on the teeth can cause them to become loose and eventually to be lost.
Q. How can I prevent this?
A. In prevention of this type of tooth loss for athletics, we recommend that everyone participating in any contact sport, including soccer and basketball, use a mouth guard to protect their teeth from damage and loss. If you suspect you are clenching or grinding your teeth, we recommend that you come in to see us and talk to us about what we can do to help prevent tooth loss from those unbalanced forces.