Do you know what is the most common cause of tooth loss? The most common cause of tooth loss for adults in the United States is gum disease, also known as gingivitis or periodontitis. The cause of gum disease is a bacterial infection that has grown in the mouth over time. Each day, thousands of bacteria accumulate in the mouth, both good and bad. It is only through proper oral hygiene that this bacteria can be removed: Good oral hygiene involves: Brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes will help Flossing after meals to remove any food that has become stuck Cleansing and strengthening the enamel with mouthwash containing fluoride Regular dental checkups at the dentist Unless these steps are taken regularly, bacteria grown throughout the day will stay in the mouth and thrive on the tooth's surface and underneath the gum line. Plaque is formed when bacteria multiply and soon turns into tartar or calculus (hardened plaque). In the case of tartar, only a periodontist can remove it by scaling. Hardened plaque can, however, lead to bacterial infection (gingivitis) if left untreated. Without treatment, gingivitis turns into periodontitis, which is not treatable. The failure to take proper care of periodontal disease can result in partial or complete tooth loss. In addition, use of tobacco products, such as cigarettes and chewing tobacco, is directly linked to gum disease. 4 Stages of Periodontal Disease In terms of periodontal disease, there are four main stages. Effects of Smoking on Gum Disease 1. Smokers are more likely to develop dental plaque Smokers are more likely to develop dental plaque and hardened plaque (tartar or calculus) than non-smokers. As a result of this acceleration, gum disease is more prominent and occurs faster than in those who do not smoke. 2. Gum disease is more difficult to detect in smokers. As a result of the poor blood supply caused by smoking, gum disease becomes harder to detect. Inflammation and infection aren't as visible right away. In the event of a late diagnosis, periodontal disease can become irreversible and eventually result in tooth loss. 3. Smokers heal much slower than non-smokers. When oxygen levels in the mouth are low, the gums do not receive enough circulation to heal. The same applies to those with gum disease and those who need dental implants due to tooth loss. The risk of dental implants failing is higher for smokers. It is vital for your dental health to quit smoking to avoid unnecessary gum disease and tooth loss, but it is also essential for your overall health and your LIFE to quit the habit. Smoking causes many cancers and general health issues. Be sure to visit a dentist for regular checkups if you are a smoker and look into helpful tips on quitting smoking today --- your LIFE depends on it.