Edentulism, or total/partial tooth loss, is an important global health problem, both for the disability associated with it and for the number of patients involved: globally, this condition affects over 10% of adults ≥ 50 years of age .
Who is at risk of edentulism and what are the main causes?
Although in the collective imagination edentulism is associated with the elderly, this condition can also affect children, young people and adults, particularly if correct and constant oral hygiene is not practiced.
The causes that lead to edentulism include:
– Dental caries: a condition in which pathogenic bacteria present in our mouth can damage one or more teeth compromising them even irreparably.
– Gingivitis and periodontitis: these are conditions in which the bacteria in the oral cavity first settle on the gingival tissue, giving rise to inflammation (gingivitis) and then, if this is not properly treated, extend to the periodontal bone (the bone that supports our teeth). The infection will damage the bone tissue, with subsequent loss of bone compactness that at the end will destabilizy the teeth or cause its loss.
However, several studies indicate that tooth loss caused may be associated with specific risk factors such as gender (men are more at risk), certain habits (such as smoking and alcohol abuse or consumption of sugar-rich food and drinks) and some diseases such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension and rheumatoid arthritis. However, the main risk factor is poor oral hygiene.
Recent surveys also indicate that the lack of proper education on the causes and consequences of edentulism prevent people from taking adequate preventive measures in terms of lifestyle and oral hygiene, as well as from seeking regular dental maintenance care and treatment of dental diseases, when necessary.
Tooth loss seems to be associated with a multitude of comorbidities, i.e. the co-existence of one or more diseases, independent from or secondary to a primary disorder, in a patient. Edentulism is therefore a risk factor for a large number of medical conditions that can have a profound negative impact on our health. The relationship between edentulism and the increased risk of the following disease states has been demonstrated:
– reduction of nutritional intake
– asthma events
– head and neck cancer
– decline in cognitive functions
– cardiovascular diseases.
Finally, edentulism can directly affect face appearance and the naturalness in speaking and socializing, affecting our quality of life, self-image and self-esteem.
The solution: take immediate action
It results from the above that postponing or avoiding dental care will just increase the chances of developing more serious problems and the need for more important and invasive interventions.
If the tooth loss was inevitable, however, all is not lost: appropriate options can be used to restore a dazzling smile.
Dental implants are increasingly personalized and lasting solutions. An implant is a screw that takes the place of a dental root and is applied directly in the bone tissue at the area where the tooth needs to be replaced. An implant is built with materials that are perfectly compatible with our body and quickly becomes an integral part of our periodontal bone in a process called osteointegration. The implant will then be associated with a capsule or crown which will replace the portion of the tooth that protrudes into the oral cavity in a physiologically and aesthetically perfect manner.
The materials and the intervention procedures are varied and, choosing from time to time the most suitable solutions for the patient, it is possible to restore the aesthetics, functionality and chewing sensation, with outcomes that are indistinguishable with respect to natural dentition.
- Ministero della Salute – Edentulismo http://www.salute.gov.it/portale/temi/p2_6.jsp?lingua=italiano&id=739&area=Sorriso+salute&menu=patologie Last accessed 7 Aprile 2019