Edentulism is simply defined as toothlessness. It is a condition of one being toothless to a certain degree. It can either be partial or complete.
Partial edentulism – this occurs when someone has loss of one or more of his/her tooth but not all of the teeth.
Complete/total edentulism – this occurs when someone has loss of all teeth in the mouth.
CAUSES OF EDENTULISM
- Dental cavity: when a tooth that has hole is left untreated for a long time, it may degenerate to the stage that the only viable option would be to have it removed.
- Gum diseases/peridontal diseases affects the alveoli bones, peridontal ligaments and gum which together form the principal support of the teeth resulting in loosening and falling out of the tooth.
Other risk factors include:
- Smoking: leads to gum damages, therefore it is best for nicotine addicts to quit;
- Age: studies shows that more than 70% of people over the age of 65 have had one or more tooth removed due to cavities or gum diseases;
- Genetics: if your blood relatives have removed their tooth, you may also have an elevated risk as well;
- Certain medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis might make one susceptible to tooth loss because they contribute to risk of developing gum diseases;
- Certain medications may cause side effects like dry mouth that can further develop gum diseases.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF EDENTULISM
- Loss of facial aesthetics.
- Loss of fullness of the cheek, facial vertical height.
- Alterations within the lips and tongue making some pronunciations difficult.
- Gradual degeneration of the alveoli bone within the mouth which makes the tongue broaden out and creates difficulty for dentist when creating a denture.
- Masticatory difficulty.
BEST WAYS WE CAN PREVENT EDENTULISM
- Brushing your teeth twice daily (morning and at night)
- Flossing after every meal
- Visit your dentist twice yearly
- Usage of dentist – recommended mouthwash
- Prompt treatment of any existing tooth cavity.
Edentulism/tooth loss has a vast impact on an individual’s general and psychological health. Thus, early presentation and regular dental visits will help to prevent unnecessary loss of tooth and enhance proper oral management.