Why Do We Lose Teeth

November 9, 2019

I believe that the biggest cause of tooth loss is lack of knowledge. With knowledge right from the very beginning, we can learn how to keep our teeth for life. 

Have you ever noticed that most dentists have great teeth for life? Interesting isn’t it? 

What do dentists know that the majority of the population doesn’t?  

Let’s consider the four main causes of tooth loss to understand: 

  1. Decay
  2. Fracture
  3. Gum disease
  4. Trauma


First, what causes tooth decay? 

Plaque is the white, sticky film that builds up on our teeth when we don’t clean our teeth for several hours. Plaque contains bacteria. When these bacteria are fed with sugars and carbohydrates from our diets, they turn the plaque into acids. These acids cause decay (holes) in the teeth.

Eating and drinking too many acidic foods and drinks also cause decay and damage to our teeth too, even if we brush our teeth really well. 

Decay normally needs treatment by your dentist. The decay is removed and the structure rebuilt with a dental filling material. 

Decay is stopped in its tracks.

Now, as dentists, we love natural teeth. We will do everything that we possibly can to save teeth. Why?

Natural teeth are beautiful. They can feel temperature and give us more sensation when eating and drinking. When we bite, we can feel pressure through the nerves around the root, so we can feel how much force to use without damaging or breaking our teeth. Let’s love our precious teeth and care for them carefully.     

However, what happens if decay is left untreated?

Then there is a different ending to the story.

The decay becomes deeper and deeper, spreading to the very heart of the tooth where the nerve lies. This can result in severe pain, infection and an abscess. Untreated infected teeth can, on occasion, form an extra-oral sinus tract that can lead to permanent facial scarring.

If caught in time, then infected teeth can be treated with root canal treatment. Take a look at the diagram below. Under local anaesthetic, the infected nerve is removed, a filling is put into the centre of the tooth and then the tooth is rebuilt with a very large filling or crown.

On the other hand, if too much enamel and dentine have been destroyed, then it may be too late for root treatment. The whole tooth needs to be extracted as soon as possible before the infection spreads to your whole body and worst-case scenario leads to life-threatening septicaemia.


Let’s look at another reason that teeth are lost, and you may not have heard of this one.

If the front teeth wear down over time, as they commonly do, then increased forces are transferred to the back teeth as we bite and chew. These forces can be so high that they can overload the back teeth, sometimes causing whole tooth cusps to break off. However, sometimes these high forces cause hairline fractures in the enamel that run vertically through the tooth.

“We, as dentists, call this ‘Cracked Tooth Syndrome.’ This can be very difficult to diagnose. These hairline fractures can allow bacteria into the centre of the tooth, irritate the nerve, and may eventually lead to nerve death.”
Dr Tim Steel.

Treatment can involve root canal treatment, followed by a crown. Why have a crown? The crown splints the tooth walls together to prevent further fracturing.

However, sometimes these teeth cannot be saved and need extracting.

If your front teeth are wearing down, then it may be time to discuss this with a dentist with a special interest in treating wear, to avoid bigger problems in the future.


Gum Disease

Astonishingly, 83% of us who are adults have some gum disease, according to the 2009 Dental Health Survey.

And a massive 10-15% of the population will lose a significant number of teeth as a result of undiagnosed and untreated gum disease. 

It is time to sit up and listen, so you can spot the signs of gum disease and get help and treatment you need!

Diseased gums will appear swollen. The gums and bone will start shrinking back. Eventually, there will be no support for the tooth, and the tooth will become loose and simply fall out.

Have you ever heard stories of people taking out their own teeth? Well if you have no bone left around a tooth and it is hanging by a thread, then that’s easy!

Remember, early diagnosis is so important. Early intervention simplifies treatment, improves prognosis and keeps your mouth fresh and healthy long term.


Learn more about gum disease and dental implants.

To arrange a FREE consultation, call us on 01904 639667. 


"The Essential Guide to Dental Implants- Learn Insider Secrets and Avoid Costly Mistakes," by Dr Andrea Ubhi and Dr Adam Glassford is now available to purchase on Amazon. 




About the Authors



Dr Andrea Ubhi BChD founded her practice to focus patient care on dental implants and cosmetic dentistry in the heart of historic York. Graduating in dentistry in 1991, Andrea was a pioneer in cosmetic dentistry in the UK from the late 90s. 

She was the youngest and first female to be named Dentist of the Year in 2005 at the Dental Awards, and she was named Employer of the Year in 2016 (Private Dentistry Awards). Her team was awarded National Team of the Year in 2018, 2017 & 2016 (the Dental Awards). 

She is a co-founder of Inspiring Women in Dentistry. Andrea is also chair of the charity, Asha Nepal, to which all profits from this book are donated, supporting survivors of trafficking and abuse. www.asha-nepal.org

Adam Glassford BChD Dip Con Sed(Ncle) Dip Imp Dent (RCS)(Eng.)(Adv cert) is the lead Dental Implant Surgeon at Andrea Ubhi Dentistry.

Dentists refer their patients to Adam for Dental Implants, Sedation & Cosmetic Dentistry from across the UK. Adam qualified in Dentistry in 1996 from Leeds University and holds the Advanced Implant Diploma from the Royal College of Surgeons of England and also the Diploma in Conscious Sedation. 

Adam is one of the leading dental implant providers of Swiss Straumann implants, the global manufacturer. Adam has placed over 6000 dental implants over the past 16 years and provides complex, advanced and simple implant treatments, including complex grafting procedures.