Losing one’s teeth can have a profound negative impact on physiological and psychological health. The affected individual can even experience unpleasant facial changes that make them appear older than their chronological age. Researchers have been looking for a way to identify those who are at a greater risk of experiencing tooth loss.
Some of the negative impacts of experiencing tooth loss include:
- Undesirable facial changes; rapid facial ageing
- Surrounding teeth shifting into the empty space left by missing teeth, affecting the bite and appearance
- Resorption, or jaw bone loss
- A diminished sense of well-being and self-esteem
Causes of Tooth Loss
Apart from accidents, the most frequent cause of tooth loss is periodontal disease and tooth decay. If tooth decay reaches the dental pulp, which contains nerve endings and blood vessels, the tooth may need to be extracted if a root canal cannot save it.
The most frequent cause of tooth decay and periodontal disease is improper oral hygiene. The patient is usually found to have been neglecting routine activities like brushing their teeth at least twice daily and flossing teeth at least once per day. In turn, this leads to an accumulation of plaque – a sticky substance that damages the teeth and gum tissue. This can cause a deterioration of the gums and underlying bone, further causing teeth to loosen and eventually fall out if treatment is not obtained on a timely basis.
The Harvard School of Dental Medicine conducted a recent study of 12,000 individuals. Data collected from these individuals were used for the creation of five different algorithms to help identify those most at risk of experiencing tooth loss.
Some variables that made up the various algorithms included:
- Socioeconomic status
- Education level
- General health condition
- Presence of medical conditions like diabetes and arthritis
An early reading of the study is suggesting that those algorithms taking the above factors into account provide better predictive tooth loss occurrence than if the patient received an actual clinical examination. However, individuals who are considered likely to experience tooth loss were still advised to undergo a clinical examination.
Applying the Study Results
As with most medical conditions, any type of problem that makes one more susceptible to losing their teeth is best dealt with early. Early diagnosis and intervention lead to improved outcomes for these types of patients. It is hoped that the algorithms developed during the Harvard study can be utilized to identify those most vulnerable to experiencing tooth loss so that they receive an early diagnosis.
DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is in no way offering a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation. Any advice offered is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.