Reviewed by Dr. Kerri Font, DDS

Tooth loss is an issue that affects not just our ability to chew and enjoy our food but also has significant impacts on our overall health and self-esteem.

Understanding the common causes of tooth loss can help in making informed decisions about oral health and in exploring effective prevention measures.

Here, we’ll discuss 6 common causes of tooth loss and answer the question – what happens if I lose an adult tooth?

Table of Contents

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a top cause of tooth loss in adults. It starts with plaque buildup, leading to inflamed and bleeding gums. Without treatment, this condition can progress to affect the soft tissue and bone that support your teeth, eventually leading to tooth loss.

  • Risk Factors: Poor oral hygiene, smoking, vaping, and chronic conditions like diabetes.
  • Prevention: Proper oral hygiene, regular dental checkups and cleanings, and quitting smoking/vaping.

Periodontal disease can be easily prevented by following a good oral hygiene routine and seeking prompt treatment for any signs of gum disease. A visit to the dentist every six months is recommended to ensure early detection and treatment of periodontal disease.

Tooth Decay

Another common cause is tooth decay. When dental plaque combines with sugars or starches, acid is produced that attacks the enamel. This can lead to cavities and, if untreated, can destroy the internal structure of the tooth, requiring tooth extractions.

  • Prevention: Regular dental checkups, good oral hygiene, and fluoride treatments.
  • Treatment: Fillings, root canals, and other restorative procedures.


An accident or trauma can knock out permanent teeth. Whether it’s from sports injuries or accidental falls, the impact can dislodge teeth.

  • Prevention: Use a mouth guard during sports to minimize this risk.
  • Treatment: Seeking prompt emergency dental care can improve the chances of saving a knocked-out tooth. If a tooth cannot be saved, a dental implant can be used to replace the missing tooth.

Poor Nutrition

Poor nutrition can lead to gum diseases and tooth decay by reducing the body’s ability to fight infection. An unhealthy diet contributes to poor oral health and eventually, tooth loss.

  • Tip: Consume a balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamins.  Eat foods such as milk, cheese, leafy greens, and nuts to help maintain healthy teeth. Avoid foods high in sugar and starch.


Tooth loss is a common occurrence among older adults. As we age, our teeth and their supporting structures undergo changes such as bone loss and weakened tooth ligaments.

  • Prevention:  Regular dental checkups and good oral hygiene can help prevent tooth loss as we age.
  • Treatment: Dentures, bridges, and dental implants are common solutions for replacing missing teeth in older adults.

Chronic Conditions

Conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis are linked to higher risks of periodontal disease, dry mouth, and ultimately, tooth loss. Managing these chronic conditions is key to maintaining good oral health.

  • Tip: Talk to your dentist about any chronic conditions you may have and how they can impact your oral health. Follow a healthy lifestyle, take medications as prescribed, and maintain good oral hygiene.

What Happens If I Lose An Adult Tooth?

Losing an adult tooth can lead to several issues:

  • Shifting of nearby teeth: This can affect your bite and lead to problems with your jaw.
  • Bone loss: The absence of tooth roots leads to bone loss in the jaw, affecting facial structure.
  • Reduced quality of life: Tooth loss can impact your nutrition, speech, and self-esteem.

For more information on the importance of replacing a lost tooth, read What Happens if You Don’t Replace a Missing Tooth?

Tooth Replacement Options

Thankfully, there are effective tooth replacement options available:

  1. Dental Implants: A surgical procedure that provides a permanent tooth replacement solution, preventing bone loss and supporting facial structure.
  2. Implant-Retained Dentures: Similar to dentures, but held in place by dental implants for a more secure fit.
  3. Implant-Supported Bridge:  A dental bridge supported by dental implants, eliminating the need for crowns on adjacent teeth.
  4. Traditional Dentures and Bridges: Non-surgical options for tooth replacement that are removable.

Fill the Gap 😁

Maintaining healthy teeth is vital for overall health and quality of life. Regular dental care, including dental checkups, good oral hygiene, and protecting your teeth from trauma, can help prevent the common causes of tooth loss.

If you are missing one or more teeth, consult with Dr. Kerri Font, DDS, or Dr. Mike Norouzinia, DDS, to explore tooth replacement options. A missing tooth can significantly impact the health and functionality of your mouth, but with the right treatment, you can restore your smile and maintain good oral health.

If you are searching for a dental implant periodontist or ‘dental implants near me,’ we can help. Call (303) 683-1144 to book an appointment or complete our online inquiry form.

FAQs About Tooth Loss

What can you do if you lose a tooth?

It depends on how you lost the tooth.  If it was a traumatic accident, a dentist may be able to  re-implant the tooth. However, if it is not possible to save the tooth, there are options such as dental implants or bridges that can replace the missing tooth. If the tooth was lost due to tooth decay or gum disease, the underlying cause will need to be addressed before a replacement can be considered.

What happens when you lose an adult tooth?

When you lose an adult tooth, several changes begin to occur in your jaw that can have long-term effects on your oral health. The absence of a tooth root means that the jawbone starts to atrophy or diminish in that area, a process known as bone resorption. This is because the bone tissue requires the stimulation it gets from the tooth’s roots to maintain its density and form. Once this stimulation is lost, the bone begins to shrink in both height and width, potentially altering the shape of your face and causing a sunken appearance over time. Additionally, the gap left by the missing tooth can cause the adjacent teeth to shift and move towards the empty space. This movement can lead to misalignment of your teeth, affecting your bite and potentially leading to issues with your temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

How serious is tooth loss?

Tooth loss is a serious dental issue that can have far-reaching effects on your overall health and well-being. Aside from the cosmetic concerns, tooth loss can lead to various issues such as difficulty eating and speaking, reduced self-confidence, and an increased risk of developing other oral health problems.

How is tooth loss treated?

The treatment for tooth loss varies depending on the cause and severity of the issue. For some, simply improving their oral hygiene habits and addressing any underlying conditions such as gum disease or tooth decay may be enough to prevent further tooth loss. In cases where a tooth cannot be saved, dental implants are considered the gold standard for replacing missing teeth due to their long-term success rates and ability to preserve jawbone density.

Is tooth loss preventable?

While some instances of tooth loss are unavoidable, many cases can be prevented with proper dental care and regular checkups. Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist for professional cleanings and exams can help catch any potential issues early on before they progress to tooth loss.

Categories: Periodontics