The Importance of Replacing Missing Teeth
A toothless grin isn’t much to smile about when you are an adult. If you are missing one or more teeth, you may feel embarrassed or uncomfortable. Unfortunately, tooth loss impacts more than your appearance and self-confidence; it can also be harmful to your dental health. For adults with tooth loss, it is critical to replace the missing teeth as soon as possible to avoid further issues.
The Damaging Effects of Tooth Loss
While missing teeth can cause self-consciousness, one or more absent teeth also present numerous risks to your oral health without treatment. In addition to the changes tooth loss causes to your appearance, other common consequences of tooth loss include:
- Bone loss: When a tooth is lost, the surrounding jawbone starts to break down and deteriorate. Bone loss can weaken adjacent teeth, resulting in further tooth loss.
- Irregular tooth alignment: Left unsupported, neighboring teeth can move into gaps left by missing teeth to cause poor tooth alignment.
- Difficulty chewing: It is difficult to chew and bite foods when one or more teeth are missing. This can lead to poor diet over time, as many nutritious foods are too difficult to bite and digest without teeth.
- Speech issues: Tooth loss may interfere with speech. When several teeth are missing, it may become challenging to pronounce certain words and sounds.
- Change in facial features: A reduced jawbone can cause visible sagging around your cheeks and mouth, making you look older than you are.
Treatment for Tooth Replacement
Thanks to advances in dental technology and design, today’s tooth replacement options are more comfortable and natural-looking. Your dentist can discuss the following options for tooth loss, including:
- Dentures: Dentures are removeable prosthetic teeth that replace an arch of teeth. These dental appliances are worn over your gums and are custom-made of durable resin material — mimicking the look of your natural teeth.
- Dental bridges: Dental bridges are replacement teeth that are secured by attaching to adjacent healthy teeth. This procedure fills the empty space where one or more teeth are missing to improve the functionality and appearance of your mouth. In some cases, implants can be used as anchors to hold the bridge.
- Dental implants: Implants are small, durable titanium posts that are surgically fused into the jawbone. They help preserve the integrity of the surrounding bone and provide support to nearby crowns, bridges or dentures. Following a brief healing period, a replacement tooth is positioned on top of the implant to create strong, natural-looking teeth.
Tooth loss affects more than just your appearance. Start now to prevent future tooth loss by practicing good oral hygiene at home and visiting your dentist twice a year for routine exams. If you have already lost one or more teeth, consult your dentist to determine if dentures, bridges or implants are right for you.