According to the Center For Disease Control, about a quarter of Americans over the age of 65 have lost all of their natural teeth. More than half of older Americans are missing at least ten teeth and only a small percentage still have all of their natural teeth. Many Americans mistakenly believe that tooth loss is a natural function of the aging process, but in reality, most tooth loss is due to the effects of poor oral health habits. These effects add up over time which creates the perception that tooth loss is natural in older Americans similar to a decline in vision.
Tooth loss is actually caused by gum disease and tooth decay, both of which are caused by plaque build-up. Plaque is a sticky film made of naturally occurring bacteria that forms on the surface of your teeth. The bacteria in plaque attack the surface of the teeth causing tooth decay and can also irritate and inflame the gums. This irritation of the gums is called gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to gum disease and infection can take hold in gums and tissues that support the teeth. Eventually, the teeth become loose must be removed.
Good oral health habits can help reduce plaque formation and prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Daily flossing and twice-daily brushing combined with regular dental cleanings and checkups are an excellent to reduce plaque and prevent gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss.
It is never too late to begin a good oral health program. Schedule a dental cleaning and check up with your dentist today. He or she will help you get started on an oral health program that can help prevent tooth loss.
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