The Causes Of Tooth Loss

What Causes Tooth Loss?

To successfully treat and prevent recurrence of tooth loss we need to understand and — if possible — remove the underlying causes and risk factors.  We need to ask: "What else is going on inside the body that might allow tooth loss to develop?"

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Accurate diagnosis of the factors behind tooth loss consists of three steps:

Step 1: List the Possible Causative Factors

Identify all disease conditions, lifestyle choices and environmental risk factors that can lead to tooth loss.  Here are eight possibilities (more below):
  • Cigarette Smoke Damage
  • Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Stress
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Bruxism
  • Need For Dietary Improvement

Step 2: Build a Symptom Checklist

Identify all possible symptoms and risk factors of each possible cause, and check the ones that apply:
recent death of a loved one
wearing dirty dentures while awake
morning stiffness lasting hours
history of rheumatoid arthritis
angry/hostile disposition
breast soreness during cycle
eyelid twitch
dry eyes
low HDL cholesterol level
secondhand smoke exposure
reduced mental clarity
indoor allergies
... and more than 130 others

Step 3: Rule Out or Confirm each Possible Cause

A differential diagnosis of your symptoms and risk factors finds the likely cause of tooth loss:
Cause Probability Status
Stress 98% Confirm
Heart Disease 12% Unlikely
Periodontal Disease 12% Unlikely
Rheumatoid Arthritis 0% Ruled out
Cigarette Smoke Damage 0% Ruled out
Bruxism 0% Ruled out
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis 0% Ruled out
Need For Dietary Improvement 0% Ruled out
* This is a simple example to illustrate the process

Arriving at a Correct Diagnosis

The Analyst™ is our online diagnosis tool that learns all about you through a straightforward process of multi-level questioning, providing diagnosis at the end.

If you indicate missing adult teeth, The Analyst™ will ask further questions including this one:
If you have lost any adult teeth other than wisdom teeth, what was the main reason? Examples include decay/infection, trauma/damage/cracking, overcrowding/braces, failed root canal, hereditary soft/missing teeth, pregnancy, pain/sensitivity.
Possible responses:
→ I have not lost any non-wisdom teeth / don't know
→ Tooth decay/infection
→ Accidents / trauma / injury / grinding / abuse
→ Periodontal disease (gum/bone disease/recession)
→ Other (please add a note)
Based on your response to this question, which may indicate tooth loss due to decay, tooth loss due to damage or losing teeth to periodontal disease, The Analyst™ will consider possibilities such as:
Periodontal Disease - Gingivitis

Periodontal Disease – Gingivitis also suggests the following possibilities:

Cigarette Smoke Damage

Studies have shown that tobacco use may be one of the most significant risk factors in the development and progression of periodontal disease [Journal of Periodontology, May 2000].  Put simply, smokers' teeth fall out faster than those of non-smokers.

A 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that postmenopausal women who smoked were much more likely to experience tooth loss than women who didn't. Women who smoked two or more packs per day and women with the heaviest pack-years of smoking increased their chances of losing a tooth due to periodontal disease (PD) by 7 to 10 times.  Some of the substances in tobacco reduce the body's ability to fight infections such as PD, and both smoking and PD contribute to bone loss: The weaker your jawbone, which supports and anchors teeth, the more likely your teeth will loosen and even fall out.

Coronary Disease / Heart Attack

Some studies show that people with gum disease are more likely have heart disease than those with healthy gums.  In 2012, a scientific statement from the American Heart Association supported an association between heart disease and gum disease.

Periodontitis is a serious gum infection that damages the gums and can destroy the jawbone.  It can also lead to an increase in inflammation across the body; overactivity of inflammatory pathways is a strong risk factor for the development of atherosclerotic heart disease and heart attack.

Diabetes Type II

If you are diabetic, you are at higher risk of developing infections, including periodontal diseases.  These infections can in turn impair the body's ability to process and/or utilize insulin, creating a vicious circle in which your diabetes may be more difficult to control and your infection more severe than in a non-diabetic. [Journal of Periodontology November 1999]

Rheumatoid Arthritis

People with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) are 8 times more likely to have gum disease.  In addition, those with RA can have trouble brushing and flossing due to finger joint damage.


Research demonstrates that stress can make it more difficult for the body to fight off infection, including periodontal disease. [Journal of Periodontology July 1999]

Bruxism (Clenching/Grinding Teeth)

Clenching or grinding your teeth can put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and speed up the rate at which these periodontal tissues are destroyed.

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