While tooth loss is common in young children as permanent teeth grow in, many seniors in the US face tooth loss during their elderly years. Unfortunately, when this happens, the tooth fairy is nowhere to be found, and you don’t get a new set of teeth growing in. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce adult tooth loss, also known as Edentulism, and protect the teeth that you still have.

Tooth Loss Statistics

On average, people 65 and older have about 20-21 teeth left. This is a significant drop from the 32 that most people are supposed to have. Smokers, those with gum disease, and those from low-income backgrounds are more likely to experience tooth loss. Overall, about 17% of seniors experience total tooth loss. Thankfully, the amount of tooth loss seniors experience has been improving. For more information on these statistics, visit the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research study.

Increased Risk Factors for Edentulism

There are a number of factors that raise your risk of tooth loss. Smoking is genuinely one of the highest risk factors for Edentulism. Smoking damages the body in a wide variety of ways but has a direct impact on your teeth and gums. Additionally, smoking limits gum recovery after oral surgery. Age is also a major factor. As you age, you are more likely to develop periodontal (gum) disease. Some comorbidities can also affect your tooth loss. 22% of adults with diabetes have gum disease. Because diabetes reduces your ability to heal and fight off infection, you are more likely to experience more severe gum disease and a loss of teeth. Other risk factors can include genetics, stress, medications, and diet.

Consequences of Edentulism

Is tooth loss really a big deal, when dentures and other implants exist? Overall, losing teeth can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health, as well as your finances. Firstly losing teeth can affect your ability to chew and eat. Digestion starts in the mouth, and it can be harder to extract nutrients without chewing properly. Exposed gums without teeth are also more prone to pain and infection. Toothlessness can also lead to social anxiety, self-consciousness, and isolation. Lastly, dental implants cost significantly more than proper dental maintenance, which reduces the risk of toothlessness.

Reducing Tooth Loss in Seniors

Edentulism is unfortunately a permanent issue. While implants and dentures can help replace lost teeth, reducing the overall risk of losing teeth is the best practice. Overall, the best way to prevent tooth loss is regular dental appointments, along with good dental hygiene at home. Your dentist can work with you to reduce gum disease and infections that can affect the rate of losing teeth. Be sure to brush your teeth twice a day, and floss daily. Using a mouth rinse or mouthwash can also reduce bacterial growth. Overall, these practices can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup, which leads to tooth damage and decay.

A Center for Dental Excellence does not provide medical or healthcare advice via articles. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for medical advice.
A Center for Dental Excellence provides expert dental care to the Brooklyn and Staten Island communities we serve. To schedule an appointment or consultation, contact us or call the office you would like to visit. (718) 232-8289 for Brooklyn, and (718) 980-9555 for Staten Island.