Also called edentulism, tooth loss is defined as having one or more teeth fall out or removed because of trauma, decay, or gum disease. Most people associate tooth loss with the elderly, but an estimated 27 percent of individuals have lost one tooth by age 21. Missing teeth can compromise your oral health, limit social interactions, and impact your ability to speak.
Tooth Loss at Any Age
At different points in their lives, people are susceptible to tooth loss.
As kids become more active, they risk tooth loss from trauma or injury, especially in sports activities. Most dentists recommend a mouth guard to protect patients from harm when they play sports such as basketball, football, soccer, skateboarding, and other such endeavors.
Approximately three out of four adults have some level of gum disease, but many individuals may not realize there is a problem. Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss for adults in this country, but proper oral hygiene can ensure that you enjoy a complete smile throughout your lifetime. If you notice bleeding or swollen gums, contact your dentist right away because these symptoms can be the initial signs of periodontal disease.
Dry mouth, older restorations, chronic health concerns, and gum disease can increase the chances of tooth loss for the elderly. Talk with your dentist about preventive measures such as more frequent visits to the dentist, electronic toothbrushes, and special rinses.
What You Can Do
One of the ways you can preserve your smile is to practice adequate home care and make dental checkups a priority. Brushing and flossing keep teeth and gums healthy on a daily basis. Regular exams allow you to have professional cleanings and they enable the dentist to check for problems like decay and gum disease, which contribute to tooth loss. If you have any issues, the dentist can recommend treatment to prevent further damage and restore your oral health.
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When you’d like to alter the shape, color, or general appearance of your teeth, dental veneers provide great cosmetic results. They change the look of your smile in a simple and painless way.
Veneers are thin customized shells attached to the fronts of your teeth. You can even select the color to brighten your smile. Often made from porcelain, they resist stains and look very natural. They reflect light just as natural teeth would.
It takes several dental appointments to get veneers. The first is a consultation to learn if veneers are right for you, ask questions, and establish a treatment plan. The next appointment will involve preparing the teeth, as a small amount of enamel must be removed to attach the veneers. In the final appointment, the veneers will be permanently attached to your teeth.
There are many reasons that patients choose veneers. These include lengthening or shortening teeth to adjust your smile to your features, eliminating gaps between teeth, hiding stains, correcting minor orthodontic issues, and covering chipped or broken teeth. Not every person is a good candidate for veneers, however. Those with unhealthy teeth, inadequate enamel, or with habits like teeth grinding are not suitable candidates. Your dentist will help you decide if they are right for you.
Veneers are considered a permanent solution for your smile. Once you have gotten them, they are not reversible. They will likely need to be replaced eventually, although they are considered a durable restoration. With proper care, veneers will transform your smile for many years to come.
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Are you one of the many pregnant women dealing with swollen gums and gingivitis, making your entire mouth painful? The stress of pregnancy on your body and fluctuating hormones are believed to contribute to pregnancy dental issues. In typical circumstances, you would have a variety of methods to choose from to relieve tooth pain, but during pregnancy some of those options aren’t safe. Here are some solutions to try that won’t endanger you or your baby.
With your doctor’s approval, you should be able to take acetaminophen according to package directions. It will provide pain relief for a few hours, allowing you to get in to see your dentist or obstetrician. Do not take ibuprofen or aspirin, however, as those are not considered safe during pregnancy.
Try chewing on a whole clove. As strange as it might sound, the oil that the clove secretes can be a natural way to help tooth pain while pregnant. Experts say that you should experience some relief within thirty minutes after chewing cloves.
Gargling with warm water can safely relieve minor pain for a short period of time.
The topical antiseptic benzocaine is often used for teething babies, and is considered safe for pregnant women as well. Apply it directly to the aching tooth with a cotton swab. It should be available in the baby products section of your local drugstore.
If your tooth pain doesn’t go away in a day or two, make an appointment to see your dentist. Managing the pain for an extended period isn’t enough, because you need to determine the cause of your pain. You might have a cavity, abscessed tooth, or other problem requiring treatment. Make sure to inform your dentist of your pregnancy so appropriate care will be provided.
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Your smile is a noticeable part of your appearance, and yellow dingy teeth can leave a negative impression on others. Most people have to work at having a bright sparkly smile, because teeth can discolor with age, diet, and lifestyle.
You may not realize that sipping a glass of red wine or coffee can be a detriment to your smile, as can sugary items that allow acids to attack your tooth enamel. Smoking is an even worse culprit. It not only leaves ugly spots on the surface of teeth, it also contributes to poor gum health.
If your teeth are already stained or if you’re having a hard time breaking the habits that discolor them, teeth whitening is a good way to improve the look of your smile. There are numerous methods to regain the natural glow of your teeth, ranging from over-the-counter techniques for home use to professional treatments in an office setting.
Whitening products available at your local drug or grocery store include things like toothpaste, chewing gum, mouthwash, gels, and whitening strips. These are readily available and usually inexpensive options. Most of these products are simple to use and can be done in the convenience of your home when you choose. However, over-the-counter products are not as strong as professional methods. This means that results are not dramatic and usually take a long period of time of consistent use. Also, the effects may not last as long as you hope before it’s time to consider whitening again.
Professional teeth whitening is often performed by general and cosmetic dentists in an office environment. Bleaching is a popular professional method. The biggest advantage of in-office treatment is the fast results, with a visibly brighter smile evident in about an hour. Results are often dramatic, lightening teeth by several shades. Professionals trained and experienced in these methods provide safe and effective treatment. Methods available professionally may cost a bit more than home options, but the dramatic results may be worth it.
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