Making sure your teeth stay healthy and strong can offer a lifetime of benefits. Tooth loss, however, can lead to a variety of physical and emotional problems, including a loss of self-esteem, trouble eating, and problems speaking. Fortunately, much of what it takes to avoid tooth loss is within your control.
The Risk Factors for Tooth Loss
A recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology found the eight risk factors for tooth loss due to periodontal disease- the most common cause of tooth loss- included:
- Being male
- Being over the age of 35
- Never receiving professional dental care
- Never brushing or flossing
- Smoking, whether a past or present hobby
- Having diabetes
- Having high blood pressure
- Having rheumatoid arthritis
While some of these risk factors, such as sex and age, remain unavoidable, most of these risk factors are the result of personal habits. Visiting the dentist, brushing and flossing daily, and whether or not to smoke are all risk factors you can eliminate by changing your established behaviors.
Tracking Tooth Loss
Conducted by the Kuwait Ministry of Health, researchers used dental records and surveys from patients at dental practices throughout the country who had recently had a tooth pulled as part of their study to determine common risk factors for tooth loss. Health clinics in Kuwait are run by the government, and citizens receive free dental care as part of the nation’s health care system.
Of the 1,775 patients whose records were examined, researchers found that nearly 3,700 teeth were removed, with 14 patients having lost all of their teeth. The main reason these patients had lost teeth was due to gum (periodontal) disease. Researchers also discovered that men ran a higher risk of suffering from tooth loss than women, but were unable to determine if these higher numbers were due to lifestyle decisions of men rather than genetics.
Approximately one out of every three patients involved in the study were either regular smokers or had quit. Research has already established a strong link between smoking and an increased risk of developing gum disease and tooth decay.
Despite the free dental care provided by the Kuwaiti government, almost 40 percent of the patients surveyed as part of the study reported they have never received professional dental care prior to having a tooth removed, and 13 percent reported having received no dental care within the six months prior to having a tooth pulled. Researches believe these numbers strongly indicated the need for patients to receive regular dental care in order to spot the early signs of gum disease, while it’s still easily treatable.
General Health and Tooth Loss
Many of the patients involved in the study also had other serious health concerns. Approximately one out of every five patients suffered from type 2 diabetes, which, like smoking, has a well documented link to gum disease.
Nearly two out of every 10 study participants suffered from high blood pressure, but research has yet to establish a clear link between gum disease and blood pressure as of yet. An inability to explain a clear connection also remains true of the link the study found between gum disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
A freelance writer, Timothy Lemke learned about the risk factors of tooth loss from Dr. Jack Jorgensen, a dentist in Vancouver, WA.