3 Health Conditions That Are Actually Connected to Tooth Loss
The Tooth Loss Health Connection
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, an estimated “2.2% of adults between the ages of 20 to 64 years have no remaining teeth.” With a U.S. adult population of over 209 million, that means almost 4.6 million adults have no teeth. And that’s not a statistic to smile about. Adults who have experienced tooth loss are, understandably, far less likely to feel like smiling than those with a full mouth of pearly whites. Smiling is so good for us, too, that when we don’t smile, it can negatively affect our overall health.
When we smile, our health experiences a little bit of a boost. Smiling relieves stress, elevates our mood, boosts our immune system, lowers our blood pressure, and reduces pain. Not only that, but smiling makes us more approachable to others, making it easier for us to make friends and personal connections. So when we don’t smile, we lose out on those health benefits.
Many adults are embarrassed by their tooth loss, and the last thing they want to do is put it on display for others to see. But perhaps even worse, there is a tooth loss health connection that goes deeper than we already mentioned: Tooth loss in adults is also linked to an increased risk of oral cancer, heart disease, and obstructive sleep apnea.
The teeth are critical for biting, chewing, and speaking. So those who have experienced tooth loss are less likely to be able to eat a healthy diet. After all, crunchy fruits and vegetables and lean proteins that are good for your overall health are challenging to eat when you don’t have all your teeth. And according to the American Cancer Society, several studies have found that a diet low in fruits and vegetables is linked with an increased risk of cancers of the oral cavity and oropharynx.
Smoking and tobacco use also greatly increases the risk of developing oral and esophageal cancer.
According to the American Heart Association, tooth loss is associated with a higher risk of vascular diseases such as coronary heart disease and cerebrovascular disease. Gum disease and tooth loss are associated with inflammation, and the inflammation can lead to hardening in the arteries. And though it can be hard to truly associate cause and effect, one main theory is that inflammation may set off “a cascade of vascular damage throughout the body, including the heart and brain” (Harvard Health Publishing), meaning the bacteria that causes periodontitis travels to blood vessels elsewhere in the body, causing inflammation and damage. This damage can then contribute to blood clots, heart attack, or stroke.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)
According to the National Library of Medicine, the likelihood of developing OAS is 2% higher with each additionally lost tooth among adults between the ages of 25 and 65. This said, if you are an adult with tooth loss, there are things your dentist can do to help you avoid the systemic health effects. Missing teeth can affect the tongue’s ability to rest properly in the mouth. Further, when the tongue can’t rest properly, it can lead to sleep apnea. Practicing an oral care routine at home is critical to prevent the development of sleep apnea caused by tooth loss. And positive dental hygiene habits need to be maintained into the senior years to prevent further tooth decay.
You don’t have to live with tooth loss.
If you have lost teeth, the team at The Tooth Doc can help you smile confidently again. After all, no one should feel like they have a reason not to smile, and further, the tooth loss health connection can be quite serious if you don’t take precautions. The first step to protecting your teeth and gums comes with a good at-home oral care routine. Be sure to:
- Floss between all your teeth and behind your back teeth at least once per day to loosen food particles that have become wedged between them.
- Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day for two minutes at a time using a soft-bristled toothbrush. The best times to brush your teeth are in the morning and before bed.
- Rinse with a fluoridated mouthwash afterward for extra cavity-fighting power if desired.
- Visit your dentist at least once every six months for a professional teeth cleaning and oral evaluation. Your dentist can help assess your risk factors for tooth loss and the resulting health conditions, providing you with the best possible treatment plan.
If you are suffering the effects of tooth loss, your dentist in West Omaha can help. There are great options, such as dentures, dental implants, implant-supported dentures, and full arch dental implants, depending on your unique situation. And if you experience dental anxiety, don’t let that stop you from getting the oral care that you deserve. At The Tooth Doc, we’re a one-stop shop for all your dental needs with convenient hours and a caring, professional dental team.
So what are you waiting for? Turn that smile upside down and treat your tooth loss at The Tooth Doc. Request an appointment by texting our office or using our easy online form. We look forward to seeing you and helping you smile again.