The cost of not replacing a missing tooth can be huge. According to the American College of Prosthodontics,178 million people in the United States are missing at least one tooth and more than 35 million people don’t have any teeth, at all. In addition to the common concern about missing teeth making you appear older, there are other real issues and dangers present if you don’t replace missing teeth. The loss of teeth may occur due to several reasons, such as injury, gum disease, cancer, or wear and tear. Regardless of why, the impact on your life is often significant.
Bone Loss Is One Of The Risks Of Not Replacing A Missing Tooth
Bones are similar to muscles in that if you don’t stimulate them, they will start to atrophy. The bones in your jaws are stimulated when the force of biting & chewing travels down the root of your teeth into the bone. When you lose even a single tooth, the bone under where the tooth used to be starts to weaken & decrease in density. If you are missing all the teeth on your upper or lower jaw, this effect is even more pronounced and can lead to the face having a sunken or shortened appearance, that makes a person look much older. Unfortunately, bone resorption doesn’t only impact the one tooth that’s missing, it actually puts you at risk of losing neighboring teeth and will impact your facial appearance. To top all this off, a missing tooth (or teeth) can also increase the chance you will develop gum disease in the area where the tooth once existed or even suffer from tooth decay in neighboring teeth.
The Ability to Eat Certain Foods and Speak Clearly
Patients who have lost teeth also experience negative effects on their health and quality of life. Missing teeth can make it hard for people to eat healthy foods that might be difficult to chew, such as nuts, vegetables, and meat. As a result, many patients with missing teeth also suffer from poor nutrition. Missing teeth can also have social consequences, as patients who are self conscious about their appearance or eating ability may avoid social activities that they once enjoyed. If certain teeth are missing, such as the ones in the front, it can also impact the way you speak and your ability to clearly pronounce certain words. You may develop a lisp or a change in how you pronounce certain words and sounds.
Tooth Loss Affects Self-Esteem
Tooth loss may not usually be associated with depression and low self esteem, but apparently it is a common problem. In a recent survey of more than 20,000 members of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGA) 86 percent of general dentists reported that social embarrassment is one of the major issues associated with tooth loss. If a space from the missing tooth can be seen when you smile, eat, or speak, you may start to avoid smiling, eating, and speaking to people in public. This can have a significant impact on your social life, your job, and as a result, the amount of money you are able to earn at your job. If gum disease develops due to the missing tooth, you may begin to experience bad breath, as well.
Best Options for Replacing Missing Teeth
Now that you know many of the potential risks and costs of not replacing a missing tooth, you may want to know what replacement options are available. There are several options to consider, including dentures, dental bridges, and – the most popular and long-lasting – dental implants.
- Dental Implants: These are by far the best option for replacing teeth. A major reason for this is that implants replace both the tooth root and the crown. The fact that the replacement tooth is embedded in the bone helps prevent further bone loss. The implant is an artificial tooth root that is anchored in the bone. The crown is a porcelain or ceramic tooth that is then attached to the metal implant using dental cement. Essentially, the only drawback to dental implants is the healing time, which can be as long as three months. But the result is permanent teeth that will last the rest of your life and will be as functional as if you had never lost your natural teeth. Plus, unlike other tooth restoration options, implants don’t ever have to be replaced or adjusted, so you only have to pay for them once.
- Bridges: A bridge can help prevent bone loss in your jaw while keeping your remaining teeth from shifting into the gap. This shifting can misalign your bite, make chewing difficult, and even affect your appearance. While bridges are durable and long-lasting, most of the time they eventually do need to be replaced. Bridges are also a less desirable option than implants because they involve taking structure away from healthy teeth in order to attach the bridge; so the loss of one tooth ends up affecting several teeth.
- Dentures and Partials: This option will restore the appearance of your smile and some of its function, they do not help prevent bone loss due to missing teeth. Even if you wear dentures, the bones of your jaw will continue to diminish and change shape. As a result, you may need to have your dentures adjusted or replaced, as the original bone structure they were designed for will have changed. This is why, despite having a lower upfront cost, dentures can end up costing more than dental implants in the long run.
There is no question that dealing with a missing tooth can be a stressful situation. If you are missing teeth or know you are at risk of losing teeth, please don’t hesitate to talk to us about your options. There is no reason to allow your oral health to suffer when you can easily restore your oral health and your beautiful smile.
We are here to help with all your dental needs. No matter what, we are here to make sure you have the best information and options available to take action and feel comfortable and confident in your smile.
Contact Us (859-689-1105) For More Information or to Make an Appointment!
About Tri-State Family Dentistry
Tri-State Family Dentistry is dedicated to providing the highest quality dental care possible. Being privately owned since 2009, we don’t experience the corporate pressure that other dental practices have to hit certain revenue numbers. You will never be ‘sold’ dentistry at Tri-State Family Dentistry. After we explain your treatment options, you can make your own decisions.