Tooth loss befalls millions of Americans every single year. 26% of people over the age of 65 have 8 or fewer remaining teeth and almost 50% of the population suffers from gum disease. There are many causes of tooth loss - from tooth decay and gum disease to dental trauma or extraction.
However, you might be wondering if replacing your missing tooth is even necessary. This article from Khanani Family Dental will tell you all you need to know about the consequences of tooth loss, what your restoration options are, and which one is right for you.
When you lose a tooth, you’ll have many more issues outside of aesthetic and functional concerns to consider. This is because tooth loss will result in jawbone loss, which will cause the surrounding teeth in the mouth to shift and you’ll lose structural support of the face.
This means that shifting teeth can cause orthodontic problems like crooked teeth, bite problems, or they can even move into the space where your previous tooth was, leaving no room for a replacement in the future.
Lack of facial support can cause premature facial sagging, which will make you look older. Orthodontic problems also make it more difficult to thoroughly brush and floss, which increases your risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Bone deterioration also makes the placement of dental implants much more difficult, as they require healthy gums and adequate jawbone structure. You may need to undergo bone grafting before you can be eligible for implants if you have waited too long to replace the tooth.
The only instance you would not need to worry about replacing teeth is if you have your wisdom teeth extracted. These teeth often cause problems because there isn’t enough room in the jaw for them to erupt properly and removing them will not impact the functionality of your bite.
There are three tooth restorations used to replace missing teeth in the mouth.
Dental Implants - A biocompatible titanium post is implanted into the jawbone. Over 3-6 months, the jawbone grows over the implant through a process called osseointegration.
Once the implant and jawbone have fused, this fully restores the tooth’s root, preventing jawbone deterioration. An abutment and dental crown are then attached to fully restore the rest of the tooth.
Dentures - You can choose between partial and complete dentures to replace a few or all of the teeth in your mouth. Compete dentures require the extraction of your remaining teeth which is why they are only recommended for severe tooth loss.
Partials enable you to replace missing teeth on either side of the mouth and both types of dentures are removable. Dentures are very affordable and accessible.
Dental Bridges - A dental bridge is intended to replace between 1-3 consecutive missing teeth. They are a fixed version of a partial denture, but cannot replace two teeth on either side of the mouth. A bridge is much more secure and will not shift around because it is cemented into place.
Dental implants are unmatched as a tooth restoration because they are the only replacement option that preserves the jawbone. Dentures and dental implants both contribute to bone loss and dentures even accelerate bone loss by placing pressure on the alveolar ridge.
This means that only dental implants can fully prevent the consequences of bone loss such as changes to the jaw and facial structure, facial sagging, and changes in your bite. Even patients who have jawbone loss can be eligible candidates for implants with bone grafting.