Loss of teeth is not something to take lightly. A study has shown that it leads to mental health problems, and losing more teeth results in more severe mental health problems. These, in turn, can lead to severe physical health problems. This article will discuss all of those as well as what to do if you have already lost teeth. It will also talk about the causes of tooth loss and preventive measures.
Major Teeth Loss Causes Major Depressive Disorder
A recent study published in May 2021 by Cambridge University Press online was undertaken by researchers from Tokyo Medical and Dental University, the University of Wuppertal in Germany, King’s College London, and Radboud University Medical Center in The Netherlands.
The study covered 169,061 U.S. adults born from 1940 to 1978. They were part of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in either 2006, 2008, or 2010.
Results of the study showed that tooth loss led to measurable depression symptoms. Every tooth loss resulted in a 0.146 percent increase in depression symptoms or a 0.81 percent increase in major depression probability. Losing ten teeth or more results in a condition comparable to having adult major depressive disorder without antidepressant treatment.
According to the study, past and current inflammation from periodontal diseases accompanying major teeth loss indicate the presence of inflammatory cytokines. These worsen symptoms of depression.
Also, people with major teeth loss experience sleep problems, lose energy and lose appetite. These lead to chronic discomfort and chronic stress which, in turn, cause accelerates the activity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. HPA hyperactivity extends the period of cortisol secretion. This is another major contributor to depression.
In addition, people with major teeth loss experience problems speaking, smiling, and eating. This inhibits them from communicating and socializing with others. Limited social interaction further worsens depression.
Poor Outcomes of Major Depressive Disorder
Since major teeth loss has an impact among adults equivalent to untreated major depressive disorder, it is necessary to find what the implications are.
An article on major depressive disorder by two researchers from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) was updated on the National Library of Medicine online Bookshelf in April 2022. It states that if major depressive disorder is untreated, it is often severely debilitating. That means major teeth loss is also severely debilitating.
According to the authors, untreated major depressive disorder is chronic and recurrent. It severely impairs everyday function and lowers the quality of life. Serious illnesses such as hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease are aggravated among people who have them.
People suffering from major depressive disorder have a high risk of developing anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder, self-destructive behavior, and substance use disorder. Around two out of three think about taking their own life, and up to 15 percent do.
The Solution to Major Teeth Loss
The best solution to tooth loss is replacement through a dental implant. Even for complete teeth loss, it is possible to get full mouth teeth implants. These are permanent and stable because they are attached to the jawbone with titanium screws. They are also comfortable even when eating and speaking. They feel and look natural, matching the color of your own teeth.
While dentures are cheaper, they do not effectively address the problems faced by people who have lost many of their teeth. That is because dentures come with their own set of problems. These are:
- Dentures that do not fit properly can cause soreness and pain.
- Dentures made of metal or plastic can irritate and also cause soreness.
- Dentures can trap food particles and cause bacteria growth leading to infection, decay of remaining teeth, a bad taste in the mouth, and bad breath.
- Dentures can make it difficult to chew.
- Dentures can make it difficult to say some words correctly.
- Dentures move and can slip off, causing shame.
- Dentures do not feel and look natural.
The use of dentures is, therefore, an inferior solution to dental implants.
Causes and Prevention of Tooth Loss
The main cause of tooth loss is periodontal disease. It is a bacterial infection that attacks the gums and the bone that support the teeth. Periodontal disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Other causes of tooth loss are:
Cavities: These are holes in the teeth caused by bacteria. They can be prevented by brushing and flossing regularly, eating a balanced diet, and avoiding sugary drinks.
Trauma: This can be caused by an injury to the mouth or face. It can also be caused by clenching or grinding of teeth. Wearing a nightguard can help prevent trauma.
Tooth decay: This is caused by plaque that forms on the teeth. Plaque is a sticky film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva. It can be removed by brushing and flossing regularly.
Gum disease: This is caused by plaque that hardens into tartar. Tartar can only be removed by a dentist.
Prevention of tooth loss is, therefore, possible through good oral hygiene and regular dental visits.
Prevent and Address Tooth Loss Properly
While losing all teeth may not lead to major depression for everyone, it can have a significant negative impact on one’s life. It is important to prevent it through dental care from childhood. Once you have lost teeth, the best solution is replacement through dental implants. Although dentures are cheaper, they come with many problems and do not effectively fill your needs. If you have lost teeth, consult your dentist about dental implants.