While adult teeth can last a lifetime, many Canadians will lose at least one to injury, decay, gum disease, or oral health problems. In addition to the mental distress it causes, this loss can have significant health impacts too. Fortunately, modern dentistry has come up with several excellent solutions to replace a missing tooth. Today, we will examine some of these problems and solutions in further detail to help you decide how to handle your missing tooth troubles.
5 Problems a Missing Tooth Can Create
Missing teeth are more than just a cosmetic problem. People who lose a tooth are at risk for many secondary issues that can be devastating to their physical and emotional health.
Teeth are held in position partly by the presence of the other teeth around them. If one of them is missing, the teeth around it can begin to drift out of alignment. Opposing teeth that no longer have the steady pressure of their counterpart to keep them from pushing out of the gums may over-erupt and leave you with one tooth that is significantly longer than all the rest. Teeth can even tilt sideways into the gap, making it impossible to chew with them.
Your jawbone relies on stimulation and feedback from your teeth to remain healthy. When a tooth is missing, the bone below the tooth does not get this feedback. This can cause it to begin deteriorating below the gumline. Eventually, this bone loss can become so severe that the teeth around it could become unstable. It can also make it more difficult to replace those missing teeth with prosthetics, although this can usually be fixed with a bone graft.
Difficulty Eating and Speaking
The main purpose of teeth is to help you chew your food properly. If one or more are missing, the others will have to work harder to make up for the loss. You will not be able to chew properly in the area with the missing tooth and will have to shift food around in your mouth to avoid it. You may also not be able to eat hard or chewy foods like crusty bread and steak.
Teeth also serve a function in speech. Your tongue makes contact with them in order to produce certain sounds. If you are missing teeth, it may be difficult for you to speak clearly enough to be understood. You may also produce a whistling sound when you speak.
Tooth loss leads to bone loss, and bone loss changes the shape of your face. Although the changes usually do not become visible for many years, bone degradation will eventually cause you to lose much of the definition of your jaw. It can also make your cheeks look sunken and cause premature wrinkling around the lips.
Having a visible missing tooth can take a toll on a person’s self-esteem. You may feel too self-conscious to smile and laugh freely or even to eat or speak around other people. This can lead to intense loneliness and feelings of isolation.
5 Options for Replacing a Missing Tooth
You do not have to suffer the negative effects of a missing tooth. There are many dental prosthetics available, and many of them are nearly impossible to distinguish from a real tooth.
Dental implants are prosthetic teeth that are anchored by a screw that has been surgically implanted in your jawbone.
It takes several months to receive an implant, making it a sub-optimal choice for people who need a more immediate solution. Implants are also costly and may be out of some people’s budgets.
On the other hand, implants also offer exceptional aesthetics and utility. They look, feel, and function almost exactly like a natural tooth. They are considered the gold standard of tooth replacement prosthetics and are always worth considering if you are healthy enough to undergo the placement process.
Tooth-supported bridges are bridges that are anchored by the teeth on either side of the missing tooth. They can be used to replace a single tooth or multiple teeth at a time.
Tooth-supported bridges offer very good aesthetic results. They are also less invasive and more affordable than implants. However, they do have some downsides.
Tooth-supported bridges require your abutment teeth to be filed down to accommodate the bridge, sacrificing healthy tooth enamel that you could have kept for many years. This may damage the teeth and make them more susceptible to decay under the crowns. Food may also become trapped under the bridge, leading to gum irritation in the affected spots.
Implant-supported bridges are attached to implant screws instead of abutment teeth. They offer all of the same benefits that dental implants do but can be used to replace several missing teeth in a row.
Implant-supported bridges look like natural teeth and are easy to chew and speak with. They can also be expensive and require many appointments to place the implant screws and install the crowns.
Removable Partial Dentures
Removable partial dentures are thin plates of plastic with false teeth attached to them. They are worn inside your mouth so that the false teeth fill in the gaps in your arch. You can remove them at any time.
These prosthetics are minimally invasive and can be used to replace several teeth at once. They are also affordable and easy to repair or replace.
Unfortunately, removable partial dentures can be uncomfortable to wear. They have little to anchor them in your mouth, so they may slip and slide around while you are wearing them. They are bulky and may make it difficult for you to speak and chew naturally. They also need to be removed and cleaned every night, adding additional maintenance to your dental routine.
Flippers are prosthetics similar to removable partial dentures. They have no metal clasps to help anchor them and can flip into and out of place in your mouth.
Flippers are very light and relatively inexpensive, making them an excellent temporary missing tooth replacement. However, they are not made to serve as a permanent replacement for a tooth. They can be uncomfortable to wear and will break much more quickly than a professionally made prosthetic.
Replace Your Missing Tooth with Beautiful Prosthetics from Trillium Smile Dentistry
If you are ready to replace your missing tooth, you will need to get in touch with a skilled dentist by contacting Trillium Smile Dentistry. We work with patients who are missing teeth all the time, and we have helped them restore their smiles with gorgeous prosthetics that provide superior aesthetics and function. Let us help you feel proud to smile again.