When you were a child, you looked forward to the time when you could pull out a loose tooth. It meant that the Tooth Fairy was going to come and that your permanent teeth could come in. Now, when you lose an adult tooth or two, it’s much less charming. The holes in your smile don’t look as cute as when you were a kid. But did you know that even missing a single tooth can have a significant impact on you besides your looks? It’s important to seriously consider tooth replacement to ensure that your oral and overall health can stay strong.
Effects of Tooth Loss
If you’re missing one or more adult teeth and choose not to restore them, there are several things that can happen as a result, including:
- Loss in jaw bone density. When a tooth is removed, the jaw bone is no longer stimulated. Over time, it can cause the face to appear more sunken and aged.
- A shift in your bite. Your remaining teeth can shift in order to compensate for the gap of a missing tooth, changing the way your teeth align.
- Bite or jaw misalignment. When your teeth shift, your entire bite can change, which can cause bigger problems, such as headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, or additional tooth loss.
- Difficulty eating. We use our front teeth to break off bites of food and our molars to chew and grind our food. If you’re missing one or more teeth, you have to adjust how you eat. Otherwise, you could experience indigestion.
- Difficulty speaking. Our teeth play an important role in speech. Missing teeth can make pronunciation more challenging.
Options for Tooth Replacement
The good news is that there are plenty of tooth restoration options that can help reduce or prevent the effects of missing a tooth. For example, dentures—whether partial or full—enable you to maintain your bite alignment. Dental bridges are more secure than dentures, using surrounding teeth as anchors for the prosthetic crown.
Out of all the options, however, dental implants most closely mimic real tooth structure and therefore address all the effects of tooth loss. Consisting of a titanium screw that is surgically placed in the tooth’s socket, dental implants stimulate and bond to the jaw bone, providing maximum strength and support. They also do not depend on the surrounding teeth, which helps preserve your other natural, healthy teeth for as long as possible.
Losing a tooth doesn’t mean that you must have a gap in your smile. In fact, it’s better for your oral and overall health if you choose to replace it. Although dental implants provide the most long-term benefits, you can pick the restoration option that works for you and your situation. Schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss your tooth replacement options so that you can restore your smile’s function, strength, and health for years to come.
About the Author
Dr. Gary Henkel has been practicing dentistry in the Philadelphia, Horsham, and surrounding communities since 1981. He has had experience with patients who have physical and mental challenges and provides compassionate, expert dental care to each one according to their needs. At Horsham Dental Elements, he and his staff offer everything from dental implants to cosmetic dentistry to preventive care for the whole family. To schedule an appointment, call (215) 672-6666 or click here.