When you lose a tooth, whether it’s due to injury, decay, or periodontal disease, the effects can be more far-reaching than just the appearance of a gap in your smile. In fact, there are several negative consequences that can occur in your mouth when a tooth is lost and left unreplaced. By seeking replacement options, you can restore your smile, protect your oral health, and prevent future dental issues.
Effects of Tooth Loss
The first thing that happens after losing a tooth is that the surrounding teeth will begin to shift into the empty space. This can cause alignment issues, impacting your bite and potentially leading to jaw pain and headaches. The shifting of teeth can also create spaces between the remaining teeth, making it more difficult to clean and leading to an increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
Additionally, when you lose a tooth, the bone that supported it starts to break down. This is because the tooth no longer needs the bone for support. Over time, this can cause the jawbone to shrink, leading to changes in the shape of your face and a sunken appearance around the missing tooth. This can also impact your ability to eat and speak properly.
If left untreated, the loss of bone can also impact your ability to receive dental implants in the future. Dental implants are a popular option for replacing missing teeth, but they require a certain amount of healthy jawbone to anchor them in place. If too much bone has been lost, receiving dental implants without additional procedures may not be possible.
Treatment Options for Tooth Loss
But what are the options for replacing a missing tooth? Several options are available, and your dentist can help you determine which is right for you based on your individual needs and budget.
One option is a dental bridge, a prosthetic device attached to the remaining teeth on either side of the gap. A bridge consists of a false tooth, or pontic, held in place by dental crowns cemented onto the adjacent teeth. While bridges are a more affordable option than dental implants, they require healthy adjacent teeth to support them and may not last as long as implants.
Another option is a partial denture, a removable appliance designed to replace one or more missing teeth. Partial dentures can be made from a variety of materials, including acrylic, metal, and flexible resin. While partial dentures are more affordable than bridges or implants, they may not be as stable or comfortable.
The most popular and long-lasting option is dental implants. Dental implants are titanium posts that your dentist surgically places into the jawbone where the missing tooth once was. Over time, the implant fuses with the surrounding bone, creating a stable foundation for placing a dental crown on top. Dental implants look and feel like natural teeth. With proper care, they can last a lifetime with proper care.
Why Restorative Treatment?
So why should you seek replacement options after losing a tooth? In addition to the negative effects, missing teeth can also impact your confidence and self-esteem. Many people feel embarrassed or self-conscious about gaps in their smiles, which can impact their social and professional interactions.
Furthermore, untreated dental issues can impact your overall health. This is because bacteria from your mouth can enter your bloodstream and contribute to other health problems.