Edentulism: What Is It and How to Prevent It?

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
September 11, 2018

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Edentulism: it’s a term that you may not have heard of, but you might know someone who has been diagnosed with it. Check out the information below to learn about this oral health condition, and to access some tips on how you can prevent it.

What Is Edentulism?

Edentulism is tooth loss that typically affects adults and seniors. While partial edentulism involves the loss of one or more teeth, complete edentulism is a term used when all of the teeth are lost.  

You might be surprised to discover that this condition affects millions of people in the U.S. alone, and that 25% of seniors who are over 60 are toothless.

The unfortunate thing about edentulism—aside from the fact that it leaves you without your teeth—is that, once it starts, it can’t be stopped. Instead, a dentist can only help by fitting you with full dentures or bridgework. Another treatment option would be to get dental implants, or a patient could opt to get a combination of dentures and implants.

What Causes Edentulism?

Overall, edentulism sounds pretty bleak, doesn’t it? But understanding the risk factors is one way to put yourself back in control. If you know what can lead to tooth loss, you can take steps starting today to prevent this embarrassing problem in the future.  

Generally, how well you take care of your teeth has an impact on your risk of losing them. In adults, cavities and gum disease are the main causes of tooth loss. Periodontal disease takes its toll on the bones and gums that support teeth, so as the destruction of these structures worsens, the teeth become loose and fall out or they end up needing to be extracted. Amongst the elderly, old fillings, dry mouth, gum recession, and plaque may all play a role in edentulism.

Here are a few other factors that could contribute to edentulism:

  • Smoking may increase the odds of someday losing your pearly whites. In addition to boosting your risk of edentulism, smoking also leads to gum damage. And if you thought that vaping was a better option, think again; it, too, may lead to oral health problems. Bottom line: it’s best to quit your nicotine addiction sooner rather than later.
  • Stress may contribute to the development of edentulism, particularly if it causes you to grind your teeth, resulting in serious damage.
  • Certain medications may cause side effects that affect the overall health of your mouth. For example, you might be taking a medication that leads to uncomfortable dry mouth, which could adversely affect your gums.
  • Age and genetics are a couple of factors that can be a little harder to control when it comes to preventing edentulism. More than 70% of seniors who are over 65 have gum disease to some degree, and gum disease can make you more susceptible to tooth loss. Also, if other people in your family have lost their teeth, you might be at an increased risk as well. Don’t let this get you down, though, as taking care of your teeth with the help of your hygienist and dentist may help bring your risk down.
  • Certain conditions, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, and heart disease, might make you more susceptible to tooth loss. Conditions that increase your risk of developing gum disease may also boost your risk of edentulism. Again, it goes back to the health of your gums and their ability to keep your teeth firmly in place.  

The Best Way to Protect Your Teeth: Brush Daily, and See Your Dentist!

If you want to prevent your teeth from falling out as you get older, you’ll need to take steps to keep them clean and strong. Daily brushing and flossing twice a day at home is imperative if you want to reduce your risk.

In addition to at-home care, routine dental exams and cleanings are absolutely necessary. Your dentist will be able to perform exams and take x-rays to diagnose and treat problems, such as cavities, right away. On the other hand, your dental hygienist will be able to give you a professional cleaning that will get your teeth sparkling and your gums nice and clean.

Worried about paying for all of the preventative and restorative dental care that you need? The optimal dental insurance will give you access to three cleanings per year, as well as major restorative dental insurance whenever it's necessary. You could have peace of mind, and you won’t have to worry about being able to afford the dentist.   

No one wants to think about dental problems and losing their beautiful teeth, along with their ability to chew and speak properly. By following a strict oral health care routine and supporting your whole body with healthy lifestyle choices, you could put yourself back in the driver’s seat and take action to keep your mouth looking and feeling fabulous, no matter your age.  


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