The very real connection between tooth loss and health

January 6, 2021, 6:14 am

For some of us this is the end of the matter, but for many, tooth loss occurs again later in life – but this time without the option of having a new tooth grow back in.

But how much of a problem is tooth loss? Other than having to keep your lips pursed in the family photos, is a gap in your smile really something to worry about? I’m afraid to say that yes, the long-term effects of untreated tooth loss go far beyond the aesthetics, with the potential to have quite a serious impact on your overall health.

In fact, unsightly gaps may well be the least of your worries, as tooth loss extends its reach far and wide, affecting different functions of your body. Let’s take a look then at three of the key issues that highlight the very real connection between tooth loss and health.

Heart health

There are countless studies which point to clear links between tooth loss and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A recent research paper by the American Academy of Periodontology showed people who suffer from gum disease – which leads to tooth loss – are almost twice as likely to have or go on to have heart disease. One study in particular found that the presence of common oral health issues – such as gingivitis, cavities and missing teeth – are just as good at foretelling heart disease as a person’s cholesterol levels.

Similar research was conducted by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it too came to the same conclusion. Having studied 40,000 adults aged 40 to 79 over a three-year period, the scientists observed a ‘significant association’ between tooth loss and the prevalence of heart disease – going so far as to suggest that good oral health maintenance should be included when educating people on how to prevent cardiovascular issues.

Bone loss and facial disfigurement

Many people aren’t aware of the impact our teeth have on our bones. In order for the jawbone to maintain its shape and density, it requires regular stimulation – which comes from our teeth – as they make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other throughout the day as we chew and talk. These contacts are transferred throughout the tooth socket in the jaw, encouraging the bone to continually remould and remodel.

When a tooth is lost, so too is this constant stimulation – which leads to a loss of width, height and density in the jawbone. This can cause the chin and lower face to effectively collapse, the cheeks to hollow and the lips and outer mouth area to look saggy and appear caved in.

What’s more, because the bone in the upper and lower jaw are now receding at different rates and angles, the whole of the face can start to change shape, with the distance between the nose and chin decreasing, making the face look squashed. Finally, the tongue very often spreads into the gaps left by missing teeth, leading to problems with speech and eating.

Psychological impact

An often overlooked consequence of tooth loss is the toll it can take on mental health. There has been a recent clamour by academics across the world to take the psychological impact of tooth loss far more seriously, with one particular study by Newcastle University, in the UK, finding that the devastation caused by tooth loss is for some on a par to losing a limb. Many participants in the countrywide study claimed to be so affected by their missing teeth that they avoided leaving the house, with countless others admitting to a feeling of shame.

The academics who carried out the study said they were surprised by the outcome but added that the mental health profession may have grossly “underestimated the distress that tooth loss can cause”.

Tooth loss has also been known to cause distinct behavioural changes in patients. Along with relatively well documented behavioural changes such as a shift in eating habits and avoiding smiling, there are also lesser discussed issues, such as a fear of kissing and laughing – and even apprehension in forming close relationships. A recent survey looked into the emotional impact of tooth loss and found that almost half of respondents struggled to come to terms with the new found gaps in their smile – despite many of them having suffered tooth loss over five years ago.

Prevention ideal, but there are always solutions

While some of the factors which lead to tooth loss – genetics or trauma for example – may be out of our hands, much of the time it is our own habits that leads to the problem. Most people are simply not spending enough time brushing and flossing, and many are seeing their dentist for a cleaning once every couple of years instead of the recommended twice a year.

A recent YouGov survey finding that nearly a third of UAE citizens admit to brushing their teeth only once a day. What’s more, recent estimates show that over half of five year-olds in the UAE have four or more decayed or missing teeth.

That said, while prevention is the preferred treatment, it is important to know that in the event you have lost your adult teeth, solutions are at hand. Dental implants, the most natural replacement for missing teeth, can now be fitted in a single day. And yes, they are just like the real thing – not just in appearance, but in the impact they have on ensuring your tooth loss no longer affects your health in a negative manner.

The very real connection between tooth loss and health

January 6, 2021, 6:14 am

For some of us this is the end of the matter, but for many, tooth loss occurs again later in life – but this time without the option of having a new tooth grow back in.

But how much of a problem is tooth loss? Other than having to keep your lips pursed in the family photos, is a gap in your smile really something to worry about? I’m afraid to say that yes, the long-term effects of untreated tooth loss go far beyond the aesthetics, with the potential to have quite a serious impact on your overall health.

In fact, unsightly gaps may well be the least of your worries, as tooth loss extends its reach far and wide, affecting different functions of your body. Let’s take a look then at three of the key issues that highlight the very real connection between tooth loss and health.

Heart health

There are countless studies which point to clear links between tooth loss and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. A recent research paper by the American Academy of Periodontology showed people who suffer from gum disease – which leads to tooth loss – are almost twice as likely to have or go on to have heart disease. One study in particular found that the presence of common oral health issues – such as gingivitis, cavities and missing teeth – are just as good at foretelling heart disease as a person’s cholesterol levels.

Similar research was conducted by the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it too came to the same conclusion. Having studied 40,000 adults aged 40 to 79 over a three-year period, the scientists observed a ‘significant association’ between tooth loss and the prevalence of heart disease – going so far as to suggest that good oral health maintenance should be included when educating people on how to prevent cardiovascular issues.

Bone loss and facial disfigurement

Many people aren’t aware of the impact our teeth have on our bones. In order for the jawbone to maintain its shape and density, it requires regular stimulation – which comes from our teeth – as they make hundreds of fleeting contacts with each other throughout the day as we chew and talk. These contacts are transferred throughout the tooth socket in the jaw, encouraging the bone to continually remould and remodel.

When a tooth is lost, so too is this constant stimulation – which leads to a loss of width, height and density in the jawbone. This can cause the chin and lower face to effectively collapse, the cheeks to hollow and the lips and outer mouth area to look saggy and appear caved in.

What’s more, because the bone in the upper and lower jaw are now receding at different rates and angles, the whole of the face can start to change shape, with the distance between the nose and chin decreasing, making the face look squashed. Finally, the tongue very often spreads into the gaps left by missing teeth, leading to problems with speech and eating.

Psychological impact

An often overlooked consequence of tooth loss is the toll it can take on mental health. There has been a recent clamour by academics across the world to take the psychological impact of tooth loss far more seriously, with one particular study by Newcastle University, in the UK, finding that the devastation caused by tooth loss is for some on a par to losing a limb. Many participants in the countrywide study claimed to be so affected by their missing teeth that they avoided leaving the house, with countless others admitting to a feeling of shame.

The academics who carried out the study said they were surprised by the outcome but added that the mental health profession may have grossly “underestimated the distress that tooth loss can cause”.

Tooth loss has also been known to cause distinct behavioural changes in patients. Along with relatively well documented behavioural changes such as a shift in eating habits and avoiding smiling, there are also lesser discussed issues, such as a fear of kissing and laughing – and even apprehension in forming close relationships. A recent survey looked into the emotional impact of tooth loss and found that almost half of respondents struggled to come to terms with the new found gaps in their smile – despite many of them having suffered tooth loss over five years ago.

Prevention ideal, but there are always solutions

While some of the factors which lead to tooth loss – genetics or trauma for example – may be out of our hands, much of the time it is our own habits that leads to the problem. Most people are simply not spending enough time brushing and flossing, and many are seeing their dentist for a cleaning once every couple of years instead of the recommended twice a year.

A recent YouGov survey finding that nearly a third of UAE citizens admit to brushing their teeth only once a day. What’s more, recent estimates show that over half of five year-olds in the UAE have four or more decayed or missing teeth.

That said, while prevention is the preferred treatment, it is important to know that in the event you have lost your adult teeth, solutions are at hand. Dental implants, the most natural replacement for missing teeth, can now be fitted in a single day. And yes, they are just like the real thing – not just in appearance, but in the impact they have on ensuring your tooth loss no longer affects your health in a negative manner.

About the author

Dr.Petros

D.M.D summa cum laude
Cert.Prosthodontics(TUFTS ,U.S.A)

Dr. Petros is co-director of the Branemark Osseointegration Center Dubai. He qualified as a dentist in 1995, receiving his dental degree summa cum laude from Semmelweis University in Budapest. He graduated at the top of his class and was also chosen as valedictorian. In 1998 he completed the three-year, full-time postgraduate specialist prosthodontist training at Tufts University in Boston, United States, where he was awarded the Postgraduate Prosthodontist Certificate. Since 1999 Dr.Petros has been working in private practice as a specialist prosthodontist, almost exclusively on the prosthodontic rehabilitation of dental implants. He lectures extensively on same day implants and teeth reconstruction protocols. Together with Dr. Costa(Cert. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery), Dr. Petros is the cofounder of SameDay Dental Implants Clinic located in Building 39 in Dubai Healthcare City in the United Arab Emirates.

About the author

Dr.Petros

D.M.D summa cum laude
Cert.Prosthodontics(TUFTS ,U.S.A)

Dr. Petros is co-director of the Branemark Osseointegration Center Dubai. He qualified as a dentist in 1995, receiving his dental degree summa cum laude from Semmelweis University in Budapest. He graduated at the top of his class and was also chosen as valedictorian. In 1998 he completed the three-year, full-time postgraduate specialist prosthodontist training at Tufts University in Boston, United States, where he was awarded the Postgraduate Prosthodontist Certificate. Since 1999 Dr.Petros has been working in private practice as a specialist prosthodontist, almost exclusively on the prosthodontic rehabilitation of dental implants. He lectures extensively on same day implants and teeth reconstruction protocols. Together with Dr. Costa(Cert. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery), Dr. Petros is the cofounder of SameDay Dental Implants Clinic located in Building 39 in Dubai Healthcare City in the United Arab Emirates.

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Have a Question? Call us Now

+971 4 3158 300

Need Help? Drop us an Email

inquiry@samedayme.com

Visiting hours

Saturday to Thursday 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM

Location

Umm Suqeim 2 Villa 733, Jumeirah Rd, Umm Suqeim 2, Dubai, U.A.E.