When you have all your teeth, you might take them for granted and even miss dentist visits. But did you know that 70 percent of Americans above 45 are missing at least one tooth? The statistics are more shocking at age 50 where 70 percent of Americans are missing an average of 12 teeth. A missing tooth takes your confidence and your beauty away. But that is not all; it also affects your chewing ability and your speech. It further affects your jaw bone density as the jaw lacks the stimulation that comes with the natural tooth root.
Implants are common replacement options when you are missing a tooth or several teeth at different sections of the jawbone. The process involves mounting a metal frame or post into the jawbone. A replacement tooth is then fixed on the implant. This way, the tooth remains in place for many years. The implant gives the tooth a permanent base. The main advantage of a dental implant is the fact that it resembles a natural tooth. Once installed, the tooth can last for decades. Again, the implant doesn’t interfere with the surrounding teeth as a bridge does. The only downside to implants is that it is a surgical process that may take you months to give you back your natural smile. You need to be in good physical health to undergo the surgery. Recovery can take months, and the dentist only attaches a tooth once the implant heals completely. You also might have to pay more than you would with other tooth replacement options. 2.
A fixed dental bridge works where you miss one or more teeth at the same space on the jawbone. Instead of drilling an implant into the jawbone, a bridge uses a prosthetic tooth attached to adjacent teeth. The dentist then uses dental cement to hold the tooth in place. A resin-retained bridge uses resin to hold a prosthetic tooth onto adjacent natural teeth. It is less durable compared to a fixed bridge. As such, it only works best for front teeth, which endure less pressure. It is less invasive and less expensive than a fixed bridge. You dentist will help you choose the dental bridge material depending on your budget. Dental bridges have the advantage of mimicking your natural teeth. In fact, they might even improve the look of adjacent natural teeth. Better yet, you will pay less for a bridge than you would with a dental implant. It is challenging to clean your teeth underneath the bridge, and the dentist will have to alter adjacent natural teeth to give the bridge a natural look. The inability to clean under the bridge means bacteria and plague can affect adjacent natural teeth, causing infections. If improperly fitted, a bridge can damage adjacent natural teeth after a few years.
If you are missing all teeth, a dentist will recommend complete dentures. If you are only missing some of the teeth, a removable partial denture might be ideal for you. The partial denture consists of teeth attached to a gum-like base. This pink base mimics your natural gum while the attached tooth or teeth look like your natural teeth. If you are missing one or more teeth on one part of the jawbone, a removable partial denture comes in handy. Talk to your dentist and see if you are a candidate. The main advantage of complete or partial dentures is that their appearance and feel is completely natural. They are also relatively affordable compared to other teeth replacement options. However, some people find them uncomfortable the first few weeks of use. Again, unlike implants and bridges, dentures require daily washing and removal before bed. The constant removal of the dentures makes them prone to damage.
If all you miss is one tooth, you might not feel the impact. This is especially so if the missing tooth is a premolar or a molar. It might not show when you smile and it might not affect your speech much. Nevertheless, teeth should work together. In most cases, missing teeth affect speech, chewing ability, and reduce jawbone density. Problems start when you cannot chew on one side of the mouth. Using one side of the mouth for long will affect the jaw and facial muscles and may even alter your physical appearance. As the mouth continues to shift, the shape of your face continues to change. Not only will your face change, but you might also develop other teeth problems. Your bite might have to change to accommodate the missing tooth. The remaining teeth might shift to occupy the available space in your mouth. This shift can lead to tooth sensitivity, difficulties in chewing, and tooth grinding. Secondary effects from teeth grinding and sensitivity might include headaches, local muscular pain, loss of other teeth, cracked teeth, gum recession, and loss of teeth structure.
There are many reasons why you might lose your teeth, from gum disease, to injuries, and tooth decay. Whatever the reason is, talk to your dentist about replacing the tooth. The cost will vary based on the number of teeth missing and the materials you choose. However, insurance can cover some of the cost of teeth replacement. The dental replacement options above can last for years or even decade with good care. Instead of exposing your mouth and face the dangers of a missing tooth, get a replacement today.
Talk to Dr. Arman Torbati at his Los Angeles office or contact him for an appointment and consultation. With over 20 years of experience as a prosthodontist, he will advise you on the best option based on your teeth condition and your budget. He will walk you through every step of the process so you know what you’re getting into.