As children, losing teeth is a rite of passage, to be expected and even celebrated – we even put our teeth underneath our pillows in anticipation of the Tooth Fairy! When our permanent teeth grow in, we assume they will be there for the rest of our lives.
Unfortunately, tooth loss can happen to adults for a variety of reasons. Some adults lose teeth due to trauma or injury or from unforeseen dental problems. There are also cases where permanent teeth do not form or descend once baby teeth have fallen out.
The Importance of Teeth
Our mouths were designed to function best with a full complement of teeth. Each type of tooth – molars, bicuspids, eye-teeth and incisors – serve a specific function for the first step to digestion: chewing our food!
Even though missing adult teeth won’t grow back, they can and should be replaced for a few very important reasons. Over time, the teeth next to the missing spaces can shift and move which can complicate their replacement in the future. Moreover, the remaining teeth are now assuming the work load of the missing teeth. This can lead to increased stresses put on the remaining teeth and cause fractures and loosening.
More Than A First Impression
Missing teeth can contribute to self-consciousness, a loss of self-esteem, and even depression. But more than that, missing adult teeth can lead to a variety of dental problems. Some of these include:
- Increased Tooth Damage – the missing teeth create a change in the force your jaw exerts to bite and chew,
putting extra stress on remaining teeth that can lead to potential damage.
- Shifting Teeth – teeth can move around, causing crooked teeth.
- Jaw Pain – discomfort and pain in the jaw is a side-effect of teeth shifting.
- Tooth Decay – as teeth shift, the plaque and resulting tartar are harder to reach, resulting in cavities and gum disease.
- Bone Loss – since teeth stimulate the jaw bone, the gums and jaw bone shrink once a tooth is missing.
Treatment Options for Missing Teeth
If not corrected, the results of missing teeth can be devastating. Fortunately, here are many treatment options for adults who need to replace teeth.
- Partial Dentures – these removable dentures are made from one or more crowns attached to a metal frame that attaches to neighboring teeth.
- Dental Bridges – these permanently replace several teeth in a row, cemented to neighboring teeth to remain in place.
- Full Dentures – when all teeth have been removed, a full set of fake teeth fit over the gums. These need to be adjusted over time due to changes in facial bone structure.
- Dental Implants – these permanent implants are surgically inserted in the jawbone and fitted with crowns that are unable to move.
Nothing can help prevent teeth trouble more than good oral hygiene and visits to the dentist. Dr. Beck at South Waterfront Dental recommends you see your dentist on a regular basis to help ensure you keep all your teeth functioning for optimal oral and general health!