Imagine waking up one morning with the sudden sensation that your permanent, adult tooth was loose or had fallen out. Your first feeling may be panic and fear, but rest assured you would not be the first among at least 178 million Americans who have lost an adult tooth. In addition, more than 40 million Americans will eventually lose all of their teeth as they age. So, instead of panicking, let’s walk you through some things you can do instead if you do indeed lose an adult tooth.
Determining the Cause of Tooth Loss
Tooth loss is not exclusively a childhood right of passage. If you begin losing your permanent teeth, it can be pretty traumatizing. Even people who had excellent dental care as a child may end up losing an adult tooth. If this does happen to you, the first step would be determining the cause. A frequent and accidental cause of tooth loss in adulthood is trauma. When this happens, part or all of your tooth will be lost. The bright side of this situation is that, as long as you correctly saved the tooth and you sought treatment right away, a dentist or professional endodontist should be able to save your natural tooth without the need for a synthetic implant. It is essential, though, if you want to keep your tooth after trauma, to follow these steps:
- Don’t touch the root. Picking up the tooth after it has fallen out by the crown instead will prevent further damage and give the dentist a better chance of saving it.
Wash it gently. If your tooth fell out into the dirt, or some contaminant, you may rinse it off gently with water only. Do not use any chemicals and allow the dentist to clean and disinfect the tooth properly.
- Store it safely. If you lost the whole tooth, you could attempt to place it back into the original socket and hold pressure by biting down on a paper towel. If it came out in more than one piece and you cannot put it into the socket, you can place the tooth in milk or saliva in a small container. You can also hold it inside your cheek until you see a dentist.
- Don’t wait before seeing a dentist. The sooner you can get to the dentist, the more likely it will be that they can save your tooth without needing artificial implants.
The Most Common Cause of Losing Adult Teeth
When you were a child, you may remember going to the dentist for cavity fillings, extractions, or tooth decay treatment on your baby teeth. While you thought that this would be a thing of the past by the time you were an adult, more than 90% of Americans still suffer from tooth decay or gum disease. Of this group, 20% will not, or do not have the means to, seek dental treatment. When it comes to the cause of losing an adult tooth, decay and gum disease are the most common. Prevention is key. The frequency of dental visits needs to be established by you and your dental provider. Most professionals recommend routine dental cleanings and exams 1-2 times every year unless you have medical, genetic, or lifestyle conditions that require more. This regular screening can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease and keep you in the minority of the group of Americans that do not suffer from tooth loss in adulthood.
Has it Been a While?
If you have started to wonder if you could do more in preventing tooth loss as an adult, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with one of our skilled dentists at 38th Modern Dental. We also offer emergency dental appointments in Denver. We also have a myriad of resources available on our blog. You can learn more about the signs of tooth decay here.