Numerous scientific studies in the field of dental medicine have looked for a possible correlation between the presence of teeth and the quality of life for individuals. The results all come together. Tooth loss negatively affects the quality of life of human beings. It impacts their appearance, causes difficulties in eating, and affects social interactions (such as interference with communications).
There common contributing factors to tooth loss are:
- Poor dental hygiene
- Poor eating habits / Damaging foods
- Dental caries
- Tobacco and alcohol consumption
- Injuries / Accidents
- Gum diseases
Since most of these causes can be avoided by adopting healthy dental care and eating habits, let us discover 5 insights on how to prevent tooth loss based on recommendations by periodontal specialists:
1. Establish a truly effective oral care routine
a. As the most incriminated cause of tooth loss is poor oral hygiene, the first means of fighting tooth loss that we will discuss is the establishment of a truly effective oral care routine. This means not only brushing for at least two minutes, twice a day, as recommended by the ADA, but using the most effective technique, called the modified Bass technique. This technique consists of placing the toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to the tooth at the junction between the tooth and the gum, so that the bristles are slightly under the gum line, and making gentle circular movements on every tooth and in between the teeth to remove dental plaque and food debris.
b. Don’t forget that brushing alone does not do a perfect job and brushing must be preceded by flossing to remove dental plaque and food debris packed between the teeth, that was not easily accessible with the bristles of a toothbrush.
2. Get your teeth professionally cleaned and checked once every 6 months
a. Logically speaking, regular visits to the dentist give you the best chance of catching issues early, preventing them from irreversibly damaging your teeth. For example, cavities can be prevented, if enamel demineralization is detected in an early stage and measures to enhance demineralization are implemented. Regular checkups can also allow early detection of periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, and enable the establishment of a treatment and maintenance program to preserve the teeth for as long as possible.
b. Regular checkups also allow early detection of bad habits, like tooth grinding and clenching, that can negatively affect teeth and their supporting tissues by causing wear of the teeth and, sometimes, cracks and fractures. Detected early, this bad habit can be thwarted by wearing a mouth guard that will protect the teeth.
c. Last, but not least, as part of a regular checkup, your dentist or dental hygienist will give you a thorough professional cleaning. A manual or electronic ultrasonic scaling is done to remove dental calculus and plaque accumulation which can induce gum disease. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to gum recession and, ultimately to loss of the supporting bone and tooth loss.
3. Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol
It is scientifically proven that both alcohol and tobacco are detrimental to oral health. Alcohol consumption is a risk factor for the development of oral cancer, whereas tobacco use exacerbates the development and progression of periodontal disease. It has been proven that smokers lose teeth at more than double the rate for non-smokers. When used in combination with tobacco, the effect of alcohol is even greater, hence the importance of limiting the consumption of these two substances.
4. Make your diet tooth-friendly
a. There is hardly any need to say it: candy and foods with high sugar content cause tooth decay and are bad for teeth. Therefore, it is advised to avoid them. However, sugar is not the only dietary factor that can damage your smile!
b. Preserving a balanced pH in your mouth is an important factor to safeguard your teeth. In fact, acidity can wear away the enamel, which is the outer layer that protects your teeth. Brushing your teeth immediately before or after eating fruit or drinking a fruit drink can promote chemical erosion that can lead to loss of enamel and exposure of the underlying dentin which can lead to the pain of dentin hypersensitivity. . Based on this knowledge, it is advised to limit acidic drinks (lemon juice, soda, energy drinks, powdered fruit drinks…). Regardless, after drinking these acidic drinks, it is advised to rinse your mouth with water and to wait for an hour before brushing.
c. We hear all the time that it is important to include fruits and vegetables in our diet (aiming for five servings of fruits and vegetables a day). These foods are rich in water and fiber and they help to stimulate the production of saliva which helps to wash away harmful acids and food particles.
5. Wear a mouth guard during sports
Sports are a relatively common cause of tooth loss by direct shock and injury. Wearing a mouth guard will help protect teeth from the shocks, caused by sports equipment (balls, sticks, etc.), combat sports (kickboxing), collisions, or falls (bicycle, gymnastics, etc). Equally important for the overall health of the teeth and gums is maintaining the mouth guard cleanliness between uses to avoid plaque, bacteria, and mold growth. Wearing dirty devices can do more harm than good if not sanitized and cleaned after every use.
In conclusion, tooth preservation is simply possible; and to maintain a good quality of life, necessary. Following these simple recommendations can help you keep your teeth for a long time, and most importantly, will keep you having a beautiful smile.
About the Author:
Suzanna Maria Sayegh graduated in Oral Pathology, got a Master’s in Research, and a Doctorate in Dental Surgery at the Saint-Joseph University of Beirut. She is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Aesthetic and Prosthetic Dentistry. It is her top priority to provide high-quality, minimally invasive dental care to each patient, respecting their individual goals and needs. We thank Suzanna for contributing to our blog.