Tooth Loss

Tooth Loss: Overview

Alternative names: Edentulism

Tooth loss involves one or more teeth falling out or being extracted due to injury or disease.

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Causes and Development

Causes include mouth trauma, tooth decay, gum disease, or jaw disease.  Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults.

Tooth loss is also linked to smoking, heart disease and diabetes.

As people age, plaque accumulation, gum recession, old fillings and mouth dryness become significant risk factors.

Interestingly, one major cause of tooth loss is... tooth loss.  When teeth are lost, the remaining teeth can shift into the gaps and this shifting further destabilizes the teeth.

Treatment and Prevention

It is important to replace lost teeth as soon as is possible, in order to prevent further tooth loss and other conditions such as TMJ dysfunction.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Tooth Loss:

Symptoms - Head - Mouth/Oral

Risk factors for Tooth Loss:


Dental / Oral

Bruxism (Clenching/Grinding Teeth)

Severe tooth grinding can gradually destroy teeth by causing them to wear down, chip or fracture.


Osteoporosis - Osteopenia

Those with osteoporosis are 3 times more likely to experience tooth loss, according to the National Institutes of Health.  Osteoporosis can affect any bone in the body – including the jawbone.  The less white a dentist sees in a dental X-ray, the less bone there is in the jawbone and the lower the bone density elsewhere in the body.  Researchers at the University of California found that each 0.01mm per year decrease in a certain area of the jawbone increased hip fracture rate nearly threefold.

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Tooth Loss suggests the following may be present:

Organ Health

Kidney Disease

For reasons not yet fully understood, adults without teeth appear more likely to have chronic kidney disease.

Tooth Loss can lead to:


Senile Dementia

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that those who couldn't chew properly because they were missing teeth and didn't wear dentures were at increased risk (91% for men, 22% for women) for developing dementia than those who were able to chew normally.  Those who could chew properly but didn't brush daily also had increased risk (22% for men, 65% for women).  Among those who had not seen their dentist within the last 12 months there was also increased risk (89% for men, 12% for women) compared to those who had seen the dentist two or more times.

It is believed that the inflammation associated with periodontal disease may affect the brain, contributing to dementia, and that those with fewer teeth who don't wear dentures may develop dietary deficiencies that are related to dementia.


TMJ Problems

Dental conditions such as a high filling or displaced teeth due to tooth loss can cause TMJ.  When teeth shift due to earlier loss of teeth, this can result in tooth/jaw misalignment.

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Weak or unproven link:
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Strong or generally accepted link: often increases risk of
Strong or generally accepted link:
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Definite or direct link:
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