Losing teeth in your 20s can be a frightening and embarrassing experience—tooth loss is something we usually associate with senior citizens, and not young people in the prime of their life. The good news is that advances in cosmetic dentistry have made it much easier to fix your smile with dental implants, bridges, and crowns that look and function like natural teeth.
Losing teeth at a young age may be discouraging, but it doesn't have to ruin your life. You can turn things around by going for a check-up to understand the cause of tooth loss, acting quickly to strengthen your remaining teeth, and fixing your smile with the help of cosmetic dentistry techniques so that you can feel and look as good as new.
Habits that Start to Catch Up With You
While some people need dental fillings and orthodontic work in their childhood or teenage years, others don't experience any obvious issues with their oral health until they hit their 20s, when things suddenly go downhill. Statistics show that 20-to-34-year-olds have a mean number of 27 teeth, which equates to an average of five lost teeth. In some cases, it's simply a matter of earlier habits catching up with you. In other cases, there is a clear catalyst for the change.
Acidic Foods, Drinks, and Smoking
We learn in childhood that sugary foods cause dental decay, but acidic foods and drinks, smoking, and vaping often fly under the radar. In their late teens and early twenties, many people adopt new habits like drinking coffee, having a glass of wine after dinner, smoking cigarettes, or swapping soft drinks for healthier alternatives like water mixed with lemon juice. Unfortunately, hitting your teeth multiple times each day with acidic drinks and other chemicals attacks the tooth enamel and can quickly lead to tooth decay, gum recession, and—if it's not treated in time—tooth loss.
Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease)
Sugary foods and poor dental hygiene don't only affect the teeth but can also compromise the health of the gums as bacteria build up in the mouth. According to statistics from the CDC, 47.2% of American adults 30 years of age and over have periodontal disease—either gingivitis, which is the milder form; or periodontitis, which is more severe. We can expect the statistics for Americans in their 20s to be similar or just slightly lower. Over time, damaged gum tissues can pull away from the teeth, causing wobbly teeth and tooth loss.
As adults start college, go to grad school, enter the workforce, and start families, the earlier disciplines of good dental care and visiting the local dentist regularly can easily fall by the wayside. Many adults don't make the time to visit the dentist unless a tooth is actually starting to ache, at which point it may already be too late and they have to have teeth removed.
Tooth grinding often begins in childhood and may become worse as the stress of adult life leads you to clench your jaw and teeth during the day and night. Over time, constant clenching and grinding can weaken the base of the molars, leading to cavities, gum recession, or even cracks and breaks in teeth. Grinding and clenching can affect the jaw as well, leading to TMJ (jaw) disorders over time.
Pregnancy and Nursing
Some people have beautiful teeth and have never suffered a cavity in their life. Then they have a baby and everything changes. During pregnancy, the body has greater nutritional requirements as it builds a baby complete with bones, skin, hair, nails, muscles, blood, nerves, and organs. Combine that with a more acidic pH, hormonal changes, vomiting, cravings, and food aversions, and you have the perfect storm for tooth decay. While nursing, the body also has elevated nutritional requirements. Failing to meet these requirements (plus barely having time to brush) can lead to further dental problems, including tooth loss.
Other Health Issues
We often associate disease with older adults, but health problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and osteoporosis can affect young adults as well, compromising oral health and potentially causing tooth loss. If you have a chronic health condition or develop one in your twenties, it's very important to see a dentist regularly, along with a nutritionist, physical therapist, personal trainer, and medical specialist to stay on top of your overall health.
Trauma and Accidents
Finally, tooth loss can occur suddenly due to a fight or an accident on the sports field, at work, on the road, or from trauma. It can come from the most seemingly innocuous action, like using your teeth to open packets and cut sticky tape. If one of your teeth is accidentally knocked out, pick it up by the crown, rinse it with sterile water, and put it back in the socket or keep it in milk. A restorative dentist may be able to re-implant the tooth successfully if you go in with the knocked-out tooth right away.
Tooth Loss Can Be Treated
The good news if you have lost one or more teeth in your twenties is that cosmetic dentistry treatments can restore your smile, your bite, and your confidence. Today, treatments like porcelain dental implants, crowns, bridges, and full mouth restorations can replace missing teeth, allowing you to eat and drink normally and maintain your youthful appearance.
When you visit a cosmetic dentist, he or she will perform a detailed assessment of your oral health, identify the issues that led to tooth loss, and help you develop a dental care plan to slow or halt further degeneration. Depending on the issues involved, this may involve:
Changes to your dietary habits, such as limiting the frequency of sugar, coffee, lemon juice, and wine to once a day or even once a week—as well as smoking cessation and including more bone-healthy foods in your diet.
Changes to your oral hygiene routine such as switching to a fluoridated toothpaste or adding steps such as effective flossing, tongue scraping, and rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash daily to remove bacteria that cause decay.
TMJ botox injections to relax the jaw, or a custom night guard to prevent damage from tooth grinding.
Treatment with Invisalign clear retainers to correct bite issues and make it easier to reach all of the parts of your teeth when you brush.
Periodontal treatments and gum surgery to restore the health of your gums.
A bone graft to restore bone loss in the jaw.
Take Steps to Restore Your Smile
Losing permanent teeth at a young age can be discouraging, but the situation can be salvaged if you act quickly. Experienced cosmetic dentists—like Dr. Glosman in Beverly Hills—are experts in evaluating oral health issues and restoring smiles in the short term and even permanently.
If you have a missing tooth or even several missing teeth, you don’t have to be consigned to a lifetime of wearing dentures. See a restorative dentist today for a brighter, healthier dental future.