Lagos Dentists have attributed the increasing rate of loss of teeth among adults to decay and gum diseases.
The Dean, Faculty of Dentistry, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Professor Godwin Arotiba, said losing a tooth prematurely might have "serious’’ consequences.
"If you lose a tooth, the consequences are minimal, but still can be serious because the adjacent and opposite teeth will tilt into the space and may affect the joint in front of the ear.
"But the effect of losing many teeth is aesthetic because it will affect the structure of the face, including your looks and that will definitely affect the way you feel.
"The psychological and social consequences of tooth loss can be profound, as it will affect speech, interaction with people, chewing, eating habits, thereby affecting general health," Arotiba told the NAN.
He urged Nigerians to replace any tooth or teeth lost with dentures or dental implants which had health-related advantages.
According to him, some of the advantages of dentures or dental implants include the absence of decay and gum disease.
Arotiba advised people to avoid risks that might lead to decay and gum diseases such as tobacco smoking and bad eating habits among others.
"People should have the habit of visiting the dentist if they suspect any tooth decay, a hole in the tooth or gum disease for appropriate steps to be taken in order to have a healthy teeth.’’
Also speaking, Prof. Gbemisola Oke, a Consultant Dental Surgeon, University of Ibadan, also told NAN that many Nigerians often lose their teeth, but that the pattern of loss differs between the affluent and the rural dwellers.
"While the affluent will lose their teeth, particularly the first molar to decay, the rural ones will probably lose the same teeth or the front teeth to gum disease,’’ she said.
Oke said that Nigerians are still better than their counterparts in other developed countries in terms of decay.
"Essentially because our own diets do not contain much sugar, therefore, loss of tooth as a result of tooth decay appears to be less than those in the industrialised countries.’’
The professor also stressed that gum disease has remained a problem in Nigeria, noting that it has become pervasive as virtually everybody will suffer from one form of infection or the other.
According to Oke, if gum disease is left untreated for a long period of time, it will result to tooth loss.
She urged people to use toothpastes that contain fluoride as it helped in the reduction of tooth decay and maintenance of good oral hygiene.
A consultant at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Dr Bolanle Akinboboye, said the life expectancy of teeth in Nigeria was still high.
Akinboboye said: "There has been no general survey on missing teeth in the country recently.
"But surveys done in the past show that many elderly and people in their 30s still have more than 20 teeth in their mouths.
"This is encouraging, but still people need to cultivate the habit of visiting the dentists at least twice in a year for a well maintained oral health throughout their life time."