After we lose our milk teeth and our adult ones settle in, it’s easy to take them for granted. But our teeth don’t always last forever! Missing teeth are common in Australia, so it's important to know common reasons behind tooth loss, possible consequences of missing teeth, and how you can prevent or treat the issue.

On average, Australian adults are missing about five teeth.

Missing teeth tend to get more common as you get older, but that certainly doesn’t mean you’re immune to losing teeth when you’re younger. Many adults are missing teeth for many reasons, so be aware of the causes (and solutions!).

The most common reasons for tooth loss are decay, gum disease and trauma.

If you’ve ever visited a dentist or hygienist, you’ve probably heard them go on about gum disease and tooth decay. That’s because these issues can cause serious damage, even resulting in tooth loss. In fact, gum disease is the main cause of tooth loss in the middle-aged and elderly.4

Younger adults are more likely to lose teeth through trauma like sporting accidents or falls.3 If you play high-contact sports like rugby or footy, it’s important to wear the right mouth guard to lessen your risk of dental trauma. And, regardless of your age, good oral hygiene can lower your risk of tooth loss due to decay or disease.

Worried about dental disease or protecting against dental trauma? Contact your nearest Bupa Dental team.

Poor chewing ability has been linked to poorer general health.3

Missing teeth can sometimes impact your ability to chew food. Setting aside the thought of no longer being able to tear into your favourite dish (even though that would be tragic!), an impaired ability to chew food can have serious effects on your oral health and overall well-being.

Researchers have seen positive correlations between chewing ability and general health.1 Some have theorised that this is because your chewing ability has a big impact on your diet, which can then affect your broader health.

Research shows a 97% success rate in dental implants.

If you’ve already lost a tooth, that doesn’t mean you can’t replace it! Dental implants* are artificial replacements for the root of the tooth. They’re surgically implanted into your jaw, then topped off with a crown to fill the gap caused by a missing tooth.

One of the most common questions about implants is “How long will they last?” This depends on your circumstances, but studies have shown a 97% success rate over an eight-year period.2 Of course, poor oral hygiene habits and smoking can make an implant likelier to fail.

Adults who typically visit the dentist once a year or more had fewer missing teeth on average than those who visited less frequently.3

Since we know that tooth decay and gum disease are major causes of tooth loss, it’s not shocking that you’re more likely to keep your teeth if you regularly see a dentist. Professional cleans help you fight decay and gum disease, and routine exams can mean catching problems while they’re still treatable.

Overdue for a check-up or clean? Just find your nearest Bupa Dental clinic and get in touch!

*Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.

Sources

1 Brennan DS, Roberts-Thomson KF, Spencer AJ. Tooth loss, chewing ability and quality of life. Quality of Life Research. 2008; vol. 17(2): 227-235.

2 Busenlechner D, et al. Long-term implant success at the Academy for Oral Implantology: 8-year follow-up and risk factor analysis. Journal of Periodontal & Implant Science. 2014: vol. 44(3); 102-108.

3 Harford JE, Islam S. Adult oral health and dental visiting in Australia: results from the National Dental Telephone Interview Survey 2010. Dental Statistics and Research Series. Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. 2013.

4 Liljestrand JM, et al. Missing Teeth Predict Incident Cardiovascular Events, Diabetes, and Death. Journal of Dental Research. 2015: vol. 94(8); 1055-1062.