Periodontology – Edentulism

Edentulism, also known as toothlessness, is a term used to describe the condition not having teeth, on some level. When just some of the teeth are missing, this is called partial edentulism. When all the teeth are missing, it is called complete edentulism. The term edentulous is used to describe people who have lost teeth and the term dentate is used for those who have not lost their teeth.

In species that are naturally dentate, such as humans, edentulism is more than just whether or not the teeth are present. Because the teeth, jaws, and oral mucosa are not static objects, defining dentate is a bit more complicated. Rather, it is dynamic and can change over the course of time. For edentulous people, processes which include the gain or loss of bone tissue in the jaws and inflammation of soft tissue in response to the oral microbiota are considered vital. As an example, the resorption of the bone in the jaw often allows the teeth to detach. Once the teeth are gone, the jawbone in an edentulous area undergoes additional resorption. Dental implants can aid in preserving bone or even stimulating the development of new bone. The bacteria and yeasts found in the oral cavity, work to create an immensely complicated and constantly changing interplay. This often present itself clinically in the form of gingivitis, dental, caries, stomatitis, and other types of periodontal problems.

Signs and Symptoms

It is easy to take for granted how important the teeth are and their critical role in daily function. By closely examining the critical significance of the teeth can help demonstrate how very important they are. Below are some of the primary functions of the teeth:

  1. Aid in clear communication and allow for the proper pronunciation of various sounds
  2. Chew, cut, and grind food
  3. Maintain the vertical dimension of occlusion
  4. Preserve and maintain the height of the alveolar ridge
  5. Provide support for the lips and cheeks, which gives patients a fuller and more aesthetically pleasing appearance

The psychological impacts of tooth loss are also important to understand. The loss of teeth has been proven to lower the overall quality of life for a patient. The compromised oral function which is a result of tooth loss can negatively impact the patient’s self-esteem and lower their overall well-being. A patient who is missing teeth may even be embarrassed to do routine daily activities such as smile, eat and talk. In additional to these negative side effects mentioned, there can also be significant social implications.

Tooth loss undoubtedly has a significant impact on the overall and psychological health of a patient. Dental professional work hard to prevent the loss of teeth for patients through proactive and preventative measures, education and prompt treatment, when necessary.

Various different issues can cause patients to have edentulism. Although it is extremely rare, toothlessness can also be a result of the teeth never developing. This condition is called anodontia. In most cases, edentulism results from the extraction of permanent teeth in adulthood. When the permanent teeth are extracted, it is often the result of dental caries, periodontal or gum disease, trauma or other issues associated with the face and mouth. This can include medical issues such as cysts or tumors. In patients who are less than 45 years old, dental caries are considered the primary cause of toothlessness. Periodontal disease is the primary cause of toothlessness in patients who are older.