Understanding and preventing tooth loss

It’s fair to say most people don’t want to lose their teeth. It can affect your smile, how you chew food and require unpleasant dental work. The good news is that many causes of tooth loss are avoidable.

Here’s some information to help you understand and prevent tooth loss.

What causes tooth loss?

The reasons why people can lose a tooth varies, but some causes are:

  • Gum disease—Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is the No. 1 cause of tooth loss in adults.1 It is a serious infection that affects the soft tissue and bone supporting your teeth. Without treatment, gum disease can destroy the supporting bone and cause tooth loss.2
  • Cavities—One of the world’s most common health problems, cavities are tiny holes in the hard surface of your teeth. Bacteria and poor dental cleaning can cause cavities, and if left untreated, they can lead to tooth loss.3
  • Teeth grinding—Known in dentistry as bruxism, teeth grinding can do more than flatten, loosen and fracture teeth. It can also cause them to fall out.
  • Injury or trauma—Over 5 million teeth are knocked out every year between children and adults. But if you follow the right steps to save a knocked out tooth, opens new window, the tooth can be saved and replanted successfully.4

Other causes of tooth loss include:5

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Smoking

How to prevent tooth loss

Like many other oral conditions, tooth loss can be avoided with proper dental care such as:6

Tooth loss can be hard to prevent in some cases. For example, if you have a chronic disease, such as diabetes or a cardiovascular disease, you may lose more teeth as you age than people without those diseases. Also, certain medications cause chronic dry mouth. Without enough saliva, your mouth can have a harder time breaking down food, fighting tooth decay and preventing gum disease.7

Humana can help with tooth loss

If you need treatment for tooth loss, Humana can help. We offer a broad range of dental plans with varying levels of coverage, many with low monthly premiums. Some of our plans also feature no waiting periods, which means you could get covered in about 5 days. To see plans and prices in your area, check out our Humana Insurance Company dental insurance page.


  1. “Periodontal (Gum) Disease,” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, last accessed November 17, 2020, https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/research/data-statistics/periodontal-disease, opens new window.
  2. “Periodontitis: Symptoms & causes,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed November 17, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/periodontitis/symptoms-causes/syc-20354473, opens new window.
  3. “Cavities/tooth decay,” Mayo Clinic, last accessed November 17, 2020, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cavities/symptoms-causes/syc-20352892, opens new window.
  4. “Knocked Out Teeth,” American Association of Endodontists, last accessed November 17, 2020, https://www.aae.org/patients/dental-symptoms/knocked-out-teeth, opens new window.
  5. “9 Risk Factors for Tooth Loss,” WebMD, last accessed November 17, 2020, https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/9-risk-factors-tooth-loss#1, opens new window.
  6. “Preventing tooth loss,” American Dental Association, last accessed November 17, 2020, https://jada.ada.org/article/S0002-8177(20)30452-9/pdf, opens new window.
  7. “Preventing tooth loss.”