There are several reasons why people lose their teeth, including cavities, gum disease, and injuries. Dental implants can be used as replacements if you lose a tooth, but that should be a last resort as it can be an invasive and expensive procedure. 

While you might be unable to prevent an accident, cavities and gum disease are avoidable. Our mouths are filled with bacteria, both naturally occurring and from the food and drink we consume. Without intervention, this bacteria accumulates over time as tartar, leading to cavities and gum disease, and if left untreated, they can lead to tooth loss. 

A 2016 study showed that Americans are keeping their teeth longer, with a decrease of more than 75% of complete tooth loss in adults aged 65-74 from 2009-2014. As we age, having a functional dentition of 21 or more natural teeth makes self-care and routine dental visits even more important.

Extensive tooth loss can impede speech, inhibit intimacy, restrict social contact and lead to weight loss or obesity, resulting in lower self-esteem. Use the following tips to keep your mouth healthy: 

Brush Regularly and Properly

Brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day is the most important habit you can develop to prevent tooth loss. Brushing removes food debris, while toothpaste removes unwanted bacteria.

Brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush to avoid damaging your teeth’s enamel or injuring your gums. Fluoride toothpaste is recommended because fluoride strengthens tooth enamel, making the tooth more resistant to cavities.

Floss Daily

Flossing once a day is just as important as brushing. Flossing removes plaque and bacteria from between teeth that can cause cavities and gum disease. Flossing is often people’s least favorite oral hygiene step, but it’s vital to keep the area between teeth clean.  

The good news is there are many options for flossing, such as string floss, floss picks, or waterpiks. Choose the flossing option that works best for you.  

Use a Therapeutic Mouthwash

After flossing and brushing, the next step in your routine should be a mouthwash. Therapeutic mouthwashes can kill bacteria, strengthen teeth, and prevent gum disease. Clinical studies have also found mouthwash reduces plaque and gingivitis. 

It’s recommended that you wait 30 minutes after brushing before using mouthwash, as the fluoride in your toothpaste needs time to sit on your teeth and remineralize the enamel, making it stronger. If you rinse with water or use mouthwash immediately after, you’ll wash away the fluoride and won’t see the benefit.  

Limit Sugary or Acidic Foods and Drinks

Sugar is one of the leading causes of cavities. Limiting sugary foods and drinks can help prevent tooth decay.

Acidic foods are also hazardous to teeth. If you decide to drink a soda or juice, drink it in one sitting rather than sipping it throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to rinse your mouth with water after to restore your mouth’s pH balance.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Eating a healthy diet is essential for overall health, including oral health. Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D can help keep teeth strong. A diet of nuts, meat, and vegetables is the best choice for dental and overall health. 

Visit the Dentist Regularly

Seeing the dentist every six months is vital for preventing tooth loss. Your dentist can detect problems early and provide treatment to prevent further damage. You’ll also get a cleaning at the dentist to get an even deeper clean with professional tools.  

Develop Good Habits

While modern cosmetic dentistry has come a long way in recent years, it is still essential to develop good oral habits, so you keep your natural teeth for a lifetime.  

  • Quit Smoking

Smoking can give you bad breath and a dry mouth, which accelerates bacterial growth.  Smoking is also linked to gum disease, jawbone loss, and oral cancer. 

  • Use a Mouthguard When Playing Sports

You can do your best to avoid injury by wearing a mouthguard during sports.

  • Avoid Clenching or Grinding 

A nighttime guard can help prevent clenching or grinding of teeth at night. Clenching and grinding weaken teeth, causing them not to function as efficiently and making them prone to cavities or breakage.  

  • Avoid Using Your Teeth as a Tool 

Don’t open lids or tear packages with your teeth which might cause irreparable damage from cracks or fractures.

  • Replace Teeth You’ve Already Lost 

Replacing missing teeth helps keep your existing teeth in place and avoid further damage to your teeth and jaw.

Potential Dental Fixes

Restoring damaged teeth and filling gaps in your smile improves your oral health and boosts your self-esteem, enabling you to eat a healthy diet and speak confidently.  

  • Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a non-invasive and quick cosmetic dental procedure in which composite resin is used to improve the appearance of a tooth. Bonding can be used to repair cracked or chipped teeth, close gaps between teeth, change the shape of your teeth, or make them look longer. 

The resin is matched to the color of your natural teeth and then bonded to your teeth using a special ultraviolet light. Bonding usually takes one to two hours and does not require anesthesia. However, it is not as strong as a veneer or crown and may need to be repaired or replaced after 5 to 10 years. 

Despite this, bonding is still a popular option for many patients because it is less expensive than other options and is usually completed in one office visit. 

  • Dental Bridge

A dental bridge is an artificial tooth (or teeth) used to fill in the gap created by one or more missing teeth. The bridge comprises two crowns placed on the teeth adjacent to the gap, and one or more false teeth, known as pontics. Bridges are made from various materials, including metal, ceramic, and porcelain. 

In most cases, bridges are attached to the natural teeth using a special type of dental cement. However, some bridges may be supported by implants

Bridges are an effective way to restore the function and appearance of your smile following tooth loss. Not only do they improve your ability to chew and speak, but they also help to maintain the shape of your face and prevent your remaining teeth from shifting out of place. Dental bridges last 5-7 before needing a replacement. 

  • Dental Crown

A dental crown is a restoration that covers the entire visible surface of a tooth. It is used to strengthen a tooth damaged by decay or trauma and can also improve the appearance of a misshapen or discolored tooth. Dental crowns can be made from porcelain, ceramic, metal, and porcelain-fused-to-metal.  

To place a crown, your dentist will remove any decay from the tooth and then shape it so the crown can fit over it. The crown is then cemented into place. A dental crown can last for at least 15 years with proper care. 

  • Fillings

A dental filling is a type of restorative dentistry treatment used to repair cavities, minor tooth fractures, and wear. The goal of a filling is to restore the affected tooth’s function, shape, and appearance. 

Dental fillings can be used, including amalgam (a silver-colored alloy), composite (tooth-colored resin), gold, and porcelain. 

Amalgam fillings are strong and durable, but they are also apparent. Composite and porcelain fillings are less visible but may not be as long-lasting as other options. 

The type of filling best for you depends on the location and severity of your tooth damage and your aesthetic preferences. Dental fillings can last at least 7  years on average with proper care. 

  • Root Canal

A root canal is a treatment used to save a tooth that is infected or badly damaged. It involves removing the infected tissue inside the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting it, and then filling and sealing it. 

A root canal can often be done in one or two visits to the dentist. Although root canals can be slightly uncomfortable, they are usually very successful in saving teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted.

  • Dental Veneers

A veneer is a thin layer of material placed over a tooth. Veneers can be made from composite resin or porcelain. Porcelain veneers resist staining and are more durable than composite veneers. However, they are also more expensive. 

Composite veneers are less expensive but do not last as long as porcelain veneers. A dental veneer can improve the appearance of a tooth that is discolored, chipped, or misshapen. The tooth is first prepared by removing a small amount of enamel. Then, the veneer is bonded to the tooth with a special adhesive. 

Veneers can last for 15-20 years with proper care. However, they are not as strong as natural teeth and can be damaged by eating hard food or using your teeth to open packages.

Getting into the Routine 

It seems like there are a lot of steps and information to remember when it comes to avoiding tooth loss, but really it’s simple. Create your routine with brushing, flossing, and mouthwash, eat well and avoid foods and activities that could damage your teeth.  

And don’t forget to see your dentist regularly. For more information about your teeth and other life advice, check out