Are Missing Teeth A Problem?
Why it usually makes good sense to replace a lost tooth, visible or not
Nobody likes to lose an adult tooth. When we lose our baby teeth we know that there are more still to come through, but this isn’t the case with adult teeth of course. Once we lose one, all that will be left is the space where the tooth once was. Whether this happens because of neglect or because it was accidentally knocked out, still has the same end result and leaves us with the dilemma of what, if anything, we should do about it.
When it comes to a missing front tooth, the vast majority of people will want to replace it. A smile that reveals a big gap in our teeth isn’t the most attractive look, to say the least. Quite a few patients at our local dental clinic though, have asked us whether they need to replace a missing tooth that is less visible or not. To this, our answer is that you should, and there are a number of reasons for this which we will now explain.
As we mentioned above, a missing tooth can obviously affect your smile if it is a front tooth, but can one at the side, for example, make any difference to your appearance? Well, yes it can, and especially if you have lost a few teeth there. Without the teeth to support the cheeks, it can lead to a ‘sunken’ appearance of your cheeks. This can, in turn, make you look a lot older than you actually are. There is also the additional contribution to this from loss of bone in that area. We will come to that shortly.
When a tooth, or a number of teeth, are lost, we inevitably shift the load onto other teeth when we chew our food. Not only can this lead to additional stress on these teeth but they may also be having to do work that they are not designed for. All of our teeth have different roles. Essentially, our front teeth are for tearing off food, our side teeth for breaking it down into smaller pieces and finally, our rear teeth for chewing it until it is suitable for swallowing. Problems arise when, for example, we use our front teeth for the role that our rear teeth are better for. The front teeth are not really designed for this purpose and could wear down, or even break, much faster.
Bone loss and crooked teeth
When we lose a tooth, we also lose bone structure in the part of the jaw that previously supported the tooth. Not only does this add to the ‘sunken’ appearance of the cheeks but also means that the teeth on either side of the gap are able to gradually encroach more easily into the now vacant space. As these teeth move, so can the teeth surrounding them. This ‘domino effect’ of moving teeth can eventually lead to our teeth becoming crooked and uneven with all the problems that that entails.
What solutions are available?
Having discussed why it isn’t really a good idea to leave a gap in the teeth, what are the options available to replace those which are missing? Essentially, there are three options that we can offer.
Still a popular choice for many patients, due in part to the fact that no surgical intervention is needed in most instances. Dentures are also affordable and do provide a reasonable option from an aesthetic point of view. They are a ‘compromise’ though as they lack the stability and usability of some of the other options available.
Bridges are a more stable option than dentures but again, a compromise is made when choosing them. To enable the bridge to be held securely in place, the natural teeth either side of the gap often have to be shaped so that the crown, which holds the replacement tooth/teeth in place, can be attached. Understandably, some of our Burton patients are reluctant to do this to otherwise healthy teeth.
Sometimes dismissed as being ‘unaffordable’ by some, the latest teeth implants do provide a long term solution for replacing a missing tooth. Given that they can last for twenty years or more and rarely require any intervention in that time other than during the usual six monthly check up, they are often better value for money than many people think, especially if you take advantage of our finance plans that help to spread the cost of the treatment. Unlike the other options, dental implants not only replace the visible part of the missing tooth but the root also. In fact, the implant itself is actually an artificial tooth root upon which a crown can be attached and it is this that gives it its strength and stability. This is sometimes a misunderstood procedure and we would encourage anyone who wishes to replace a missing tooth to discuss this option with your dentist.
If you have a missing tooth, or teeth, and would like to discuss the most appropriate replacement option for you, why not come and see us at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice where you will find our local team to be both friendly and helpful. We aim to provide unbiased help and information so that you can make an informed choice.
To arrange an appointment, please call us at our Burton practice on 01283 845345.Google+