Retro Thursday: Top Three Causes of Tooth Loss

1.   Severe cavities are caused by a highly acidic environment in the mouth, either by frequent consumption of acidic food or drink (sugar-free soft drinks, orange juice, lemon juice) or sugar/carbohydrate heavy food (soft drinks, candy, coffee, bread, crackers, starchy foods).  It is an infection of your tooth that, if left untreated, can enter the nerve of the tooth and cause it to die. 

2.  Gum Disease — Redness,  bleeding,  and bone loss around your teeth  often called the silent killer of teeth.  Gum disease is an infection of bacterial plaque into your gums.  Bacteria hides around and in between your teeth,  invades the gums, and then attacks the bone.  Your body defends itself by trying to kill off the bacteria, but when that doesn’t work and the bacteria starts attacking the bone, your body starts to eject the tooth.  Most  bone loss seen in periodontal disease is actually caused by your immune response.  The body sees the tooth as the source of the infection and wants it out!  Bone loss can happen rapidly for this reason, or slowly over your lifetime.  

3.  Occlusal Disease –   Your “occlusion” is your bite and the way your teeth function together.  If this relationship is disfunctional, it can cause trauma to your teeth.  If you hit one or two teeth more heavily than others (or a filling is “high”), almost all the force of your bite is centralized on 2 teeth rather than spread out across all 28 teeth.  You can literally beat a tooth to death this way, irritating and killing the tooth nerve. 

Occlusal disease can also cause bone loss around teeth and can be closely linked to gum disease.  If your teeth regularly take excessive side to side force,  the ligaments and bone holding your teeth can be damaged.  This leads to tooth mobility, recession, and tooth loss.  Side to side force is often caused by traumatic fit to your teeth, clenching, and/or grinding. 

Side to side force can  cause notching in the enamel and root around the neck of the tooth called abfraction.  This force combined with abfraction can cause teeth to be extremely sensitive

What is your best defense against these threats?  Prevention

1.  Cut out acidic foods and sugars out of your diet or reduce how often.  For example,  do not sip your latte or soft drink slowly over time.  Also, limit the amount of carb heavy snacks you have throughout the day.  After eating, your mouth stays in a dangerous range of acidity for about 20 minutes.  Snacking or eating slowly turns 20 minutes into HOURS of acid attack.

2.  Chew sugar-free/xylitol gum after eating.  This helps sweep food and plaque out of your mouth, allowing it to return to a normal pH more quickly.  Therefore, the acid attack is shorter!

3.  Brushing at least 2x a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing 1x plus a day (or picks, soft pics, proxy brushes, waterpick, etc), and using an anti bacterial mouth rinse like CLO-SYS or alcohol free Listerine.

4.  See your dental hygienist at least twice a year for a cleaning.   If you have had gum disease in the past, three to four times a year is more appropriate.  There is no cure  for gum disease, but you can “arrest” the disease and keep it from causing more destruction.

5.  Ask your dentist about your bite.  Orthodontics may be necessary in severe cases, but often your bite can be adjusted in office during one or two appointments. 

6. A night guard or splint may be necessary to reduce the force on your teeth at night.  You put up to 10 times more pressure when you clench in your sleep than when you are awake!  This can add years of life to your teeth and protect against wear, breakage, cracking, and tooth death!

For addition information:
Springs Oral Health, Dr Matthew Burton
Phone: 719-593-9025


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