Tooth loss in adults can occur for a variety of reasons, such as severe tooth decay, gum disease or trauma. In some cases, your teeth may be extracted by your dentist to relieve painful symptoms, remove an infection or prevent damage to neighboring teeth.

Whether you are missing one or several teeth, tooth loss can significantly impact your day-to-day life, as well as your future oral health. Here’s a closer look at what happens when you don’t replace missing teeth and what you can do to reclaim your smile.

  • Difficulty Eating & Speaking. Your teeth play a vital role in helping you eat foods and communicate. Missing one or more teeth, however, can impact your ability to chew certain foods and pronounce words clearly. 
  • Oral Health Issues. Gum tissue where teeth are missing, as well as the surrounding teeth, are at a higher risk of infection.  This creates a negative cycle and puts you at risk for additional tooth loss.
  • Misaligned Teeth. As your natural teeth shift toward one another to fill the gap left behind by one or more missing teeth, they can become misaligned. This can strain the jawbone and lead to greater difficulty chewing.
  • Facial Structure Changes. Missing teeth can lead to changes in facial structure as the surrounding teeth may shift or tilt to compensate for the gap, causing alterations in bite alignment. Additionally, the loss of teeth can contribute to a sunken appearance in the lower part of the face, impacting the overall symmetry and support of facial features.
  • Bone Loss. When a tooth is missing, the gum and jawbone are no longer stimulated. Your jawbone will begin to shrink, and your gums will recede around the missing tooth. This process causes your face to sag and any adjacent teeth to weaken.
  • Poor Self-Esteem. Beautifully aligned and bright teeth can boost confidence and leave a lasting impression on people around you. On the other hand, missing teeth can make you feel self-conscious about smiling or speaking in public.

Treatment Options for Tooth Replacement

If you lose a tooth unexpectedly, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible to maintain a healthy, functional smile. Fortunately, there are several options available to replace missing teeth and restore your oral health, including the following:

  • Dentures. Dentures are a set of false, removeable teeth that can replace a couple missing teeth or a full set of teeth.
  • Dental Bridges. Dental bridges can be used to fill the gap left by a missing tooth. A bridge consists of two crowns on either side of the gap, with an artificial tooth in between them. The crowns are cemented onto adjacent natural teeth or dental implants.
  • Dental Implants. Your dentist will surgically insert small titanium posts into your bone, replacing the roots of your missing teeth. They look and function just like natural teeth, and with proper care, implants can last a lifetime.

Reclaim Your Smile at McLean DDS

If you already have a missing tooth or are planning an upcoming tooth extraction, now is the time to meet with your dentist to discuss replacement options. At McLean DDS, our experienced dentist will consider factors such as your overall oral health, budget and personal goals before recommending possible treatment options. Remember that neglecting to replace missing teeth could lead to further complications and more costly, complex treatments down the road.

To learn more about your tooth replacement options, contact McLean DDS today by calling (703) 734-2750.

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