If you are missing a tooth, you are not alone. 178 Million Americans are missing at least one tooth and over 35 Million Americans do not have any of their natural teeth remaining. Missing teeth are often taken lightly and not replaced.
We often hear patients say things like ” It is in the back, I don’t need to replace it. Nobody can see it”. If you have ever thought or said something similar, it is time to take a moment to fully understand the possible consequences of even a single missing tooth.
Don’t Try to Chew With Your Front Teeth
Every tooth in your mouth is designed perfectly for a specific function. Your front teeth (incisors) are designed for biting. Your molars are designed for grinding and chewing on foods. When one or more teeth are missing, it forces the other teeth to compensate in terms of function. Chronic misuse of the teeth can lead to damage and eventually more tooth loss. Imagine trying to chew with your front teeth for the rest of your life. Can you imagine the stress those front teeth would be under trying to chew when they are meant to bite? Over time, those front teeth would become chipped, worn or even fractured.
Missing Teeth Cause Bone Loss
Your natural tooth roots extend into the jaw bone, keeping the bone stimulated. When a tooth is missing, the bone no longer has anything to hold on to, and over time begins to shrink away in a process called bone atrophy. As the jaw bone shrinks away, it forms a concave shape in the gums. This process can affect your bite. Preventing bone loss is important because it affects your dental function, but it can also change the shape of your face. When the jaw bone begins to shrink and becomes thinner, you will begin to notice that the face becomes less full in that area as support for the facial tissues is lost. In a case of complete loss of teeth, the jaw bone will shrink away significantly over time, causing the chin to become much closer to your nose. This process, called loss of vertical dimension, causes the face to sink in and age prematurely.
Missing Teeth Change Your Bite
When teeth are missing, the remaining teeth can shift and change position. Teeth adjacent to the space will begin to tip inward toward the gap, changing the way the other teeth come together. Your teeth will continue to ‘erupt’ until they meet an opposing force. Teeth opposing the space will begin to drift upward or downward into the space until it contacts the opposing jaw. This is a process called supereruption and it can really have a negative effect on your bite. With teeth tipping in improper directions and teeth supererupting into the opposing arch, your bite becomes extremely misaligned. A misaligned bite can lead to headaches, jaw pain, TMJ dysfunction, gum disease and tooth decay. All of these things can lead to more missing teeth.
Replace Missing Teeth With Dental Implants
Most dentists, including Dr. Todd Anderson of Richardson’s Fresh Dental recommend replacing missing teeth with dental implants. Implants are the most natural looking, feeling and functioning way to replace missing teeth. By replacing the tooth root as well as the crown, the bite and position of the remaining teeth is preserved. In addition, the implant preserves the jaw bone, preventing atrophy. 98% successful, dental implants are predictable and reliable. More successful and long lasting than other forms of tooth replacement, such as bridges and partial or complete dentures, implants are most likely to last you the rest of your life. A dental implant, once restored, looks and feels most like a natural tooth. In addition to appearances. dental implants function like a natural tooth, restoring your ability to enjoy foods you would need to avoid with bridges and dentures.
For more information about tooth replacement with dental implants, contact your Richardson implant dentist at Fresh Dental. Your dental implant consultation is the first step toward restoring your dental health and function with dental implants.