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Many people underestimate the value of establishing good oral health. From oral care practices at home to making regular visits to a dentist, maintaining good oral health is essential for helping promote total health and wellness.

Through a series of life circumstances, periodontal disease, or neglect of teeth, some of us find ourselves with missing teeth at some point in our lives. While we may think there is no lasting consequence for having missing teeth, the reality is that it can weaken the whole structure of your mouth, leaving you susceptible to disease and infection. Here are some lasting consequences of missing teeth, and what you can do to turn your dental health around:

Consequence #1: You Will Experience Bone Loss & Weakness

Whether a tooth falls out on its own or you end up pulling one as part of a dental procedure, if you fail to restore that area of your mouth completely, you will experience bone loss. The alveolar bone is responsible for supporting teeth in the jawbone, and this bone starts to deteriorate almost immediately after a tooth is pulled. Bone loss eventually leads to the breakdown of supportive cartilage and muscle tissue, which can make lips and cheeks take on a sunken appearance.

Consequence #2: Your Speech Can Change

Because losing a tooth can cause radical changes to the supportive bones in your mouth, this can affect the integrity of your gum tissue as well. When teeth become loose and weak, this will begin to affect your speech patterns. Slurring and the inability to make certain sounds will occur due to tooth loss; this will eventually affect your self-confidence and your relationships. Taking good care of your mouth, teeth and gums will prevent these changes from occurring.

Consequence #3: You Will Be At Increased Risk For Fractures

Not only will missing and damaged teeth change the landscape of your entire face, but tooth loss will also leave your more susceptible to fractures of your cheek and jawbones. Loss of volume in your bones makes them weaker and more prone to damage if you were to fall or sustain an injury. Taking care of compromised areas of the mouth before bone is allowed to weaken will ensure the future strength of your whole mouth.

Taking Charge Of Your Oral Health

The best preventative measure to reduce the chance of losing teeth is taking charge of your oral health. Establishing healthy habits at home and remaining diligent about visiting your dental professionals at least twice yearly will do wonders for strengthening and improving the health of your mouth. Good dental practices include:

1. Brush your teeth at least twice daily with a fluoride-based toothpaste. Aim for brushing for at least 2-3 minutes, and don’t neglect brushing your tongue and gums as well; these soft tissues can hold tons of hidden bacteria that can quickly turn into sticky plaque that can cause cavities.

2. Floss at least once daily in between teeth. Cleaning between your teeth can remove the plaque buildup that can lead to disease and decay. Flossing removes debris and buildup in areas that a toothbrush cannot reach; add flossing to your daily routine for total oral care.

3. Eat a diet rich in whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and quality protein. Limit the consumption of sticky, sweet, acidic, and sugary snacks. Keeping your teeth free from sticky and acidic residues will ensure that you limit the buildup of harmful plaque that could lead to tooth decay.

4. Regularly inspect and replace toothbrushes, flossers, and other dental care devices to make sure you are getting the best clean. Worn brushes are not able to effectively clean residue off teeth; invest in the future of your oral health by regularly replacing your dental care devices.

5. Schedule regular visits to your dentist. Your dentist can deep clean, diagnose, and treat all kinds of dental conditions that you might not have the tools to address at home. In addition, taking regular x-rays will allow you and your dentist to design a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses all of your needs.

With active management at home and a little proactive planning with dental care professionals, it is possible to reduce and eliminate all instances of tooth loss, thus protecting the health and strength of your mouth. Here’s to your continued dental health!