The Causes of Missing Teeth

Tooth human implant

Tooth loss is an unfortunate reality for many patients. Adult tooth loss may occur for a number of reasons, and not always as a result of poor oral health. Fortunately, those who have missing teeth can enjoy restored dental function and appearance with dental implants. Although treatment is available to replace missing teeth, preventing tooth loss to begin with is vital for oral health. Prevent tooth loss and protect your oral health by understanding the causes of missing teeth. To undergo treatment, contact our Bolingbrook, IL dentists, Drs. Allan Libunao and Richard Kim.


Adult tooth loss is generally caused by an oral health issue, like tooth decay or gum disease, but even those who practice good oral hygiene habits may experience unexpected tooth loss as a result of an injury or accident. Understanding the causes of missing teeth can help you protect your smile.

  • Gum disease: Plaque and tartar buildup along the gum line can lead to gum disease. Although gum disease may start with mild bleeding when brushing and flossing, if allowed to progress, it can lead to the formation of pockets between the gums and teeth. These pockets allow bacteria to reach the tooth roots, jaw, and surrounding tissues, causing the teeth to become loose or severely decayed, all of which can result in tooth loss.
  • Tooth decay: Tooth decay, caused by a combination of plaque, tartar, bacteria, and the foods we eat and drink, can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
  • Neglecting oral hygiene: Neglecting oral hygiene, not brushing and flossing everyday, or seeing your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, increases the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, which can lead to tooth loss.
  • Injury or trauma: Sports-related injuries and other accidents can cause otherwise healthy teeth to be lost. In some cases, tooth loss may not be immediate, but may still occur if trauma was sustained to the internal structures of the tooth.


Tooth loss can lead to alignment issues and cause the remaining teeth to shift. In some cases, this can result in a painful condition called temporomandibular joint disorder. Replacing missing teeth is not only necessary to restore dental function, it’s essential for protecting oral health. Patients who suffer from tooth loss may benefit from such treatments as:

  • Dental implants: Dental implants are surgically placed titanium posts that can be paired with different restorations to replace individual or multiple missing teeth, restoring dental function and appearance. Dental implants may be paired with dental crowns to permanently replace individual teeth. Those missing multiple teeth may choose implant-supported dental bridges, while those missing a full arch of teeth may benefit from implant-supported dentures.
  • Dental bridges: Dental bridges may be attached to the remaining teeth or dental implants for the replacement of one or more missing teeth.
  • Removable dentures: Traditional removable dentures offer non-surgical replacement of a full upper arch of teeth, lower arch of teeth, or both.


Most adult tooth loss can be prevented by practicing proper oral hygiene and dental care. Practicing proper oral hygiene, brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and seeing your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings, can greatly reduce the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, two of the biggest causes of tooth loss. Although it may not be possible to avoid tooth loss caused by an unexpected injury or accident, those who play contact sports can help protect their smiles by wearing a mouth guard during play. If you do experience trauma or injury to your smile, seeking treatment at the first signs of dental damage or other oral health issue is another great way to protect your teeth and prevent tooth loss.


For more information about tooth loss or to receive your personalized treatment plan, we welcome you to schedule a consultation with Dr. Libunao or Dr. Kim.