Six Reasons to Replace Missing Teeth
Posted on: August 1, 2021
3 minute read
Your teeth serve a key purpose in your oral health and overall health. You’d be surprised how often we take for granted the important role that teeth play in our everyday lives.
Nowadays, Australians are keeping their natural teeth for longer throughout their lifetime, thanks to advancements in modern dentistry and good oral hygiene practices at home. However, tooth decay, gum disease and trauma remain the key causes of tooth loss and extractions each year.
We’ve compiled six reasons you should consider replacing missing teeth and several teeth replacement solutions that may be suitable for your needs.
1. Missing teeth affect your smile
If you miss one or more teeth, you may lose your willingness to smile openly or often. When this occurs, you lose some of the many benefits of smiling, including:
- Improved mood (1)
- Improved social interaction with others (2)
- Lower blood pressure (3)
- Enhanced immune system (3)
- Reduced stress (4)
2. Missing teeth cause surrounding teeth to shift
When a tooth is missing, the teeth adjacent and opposite the gap can start to shift into the space. This can causes issues with surrounding teeth such as:
- An uneven bite
- More difficulty brushing and flossing
- Increased susceptibility to tooth decay and gum disease
- Poor aesthetics
- Greater risk of grinding and tooth wear
3. Missing teeth cause bone loss
Tooth roots stimulate the jaw bone through activities like chewing and biting. When a tooth is removed, the lack of stimulation causes the jaw bone to shrink away and lose structure.
Roughly 25% of the jaw bone can be lost within the first year after having a tooth removed. As the jaw bone continues to shrink, adjacent teeth are at greater risk of developing gum disease, bone loss, and subsequently tooth loss. Aesthetic concerns may also arise when teeth are lost in the front of the mouth.
Nowadays, it’s possible to remove and replace a damaged tooth in the same day with an immediate implant placement. Immediate implants can fast-track the healing process and help prevent jaw bone loss while restoring your smile.
4. Missing teeth cause a prematurely aged appearance
Your teeth and the surrounding jawbone help support facial muscles, structure and lips. Without this support, the jaw bone resorbs, cheeks hollow out and the nose and chin begin to dip inwards, causing a sagging appearance. This occurs even with wearing dentures because dentures do not prevent jaw bone loss.
Dental implants are unlike any other teeth replacement solution because they mimic natural tooth roots and help keep the jaw bone healthy.
5. Missing teeth cause chewing problems
Healthy teeth and gums provide the ability to effectively chew a variety of foods to maintain a nutritious diet. Even one missing tooth can change how you chew food to a point where nutrition and overall health is affected.
A related consequence of missing teeth is the change in chewing patterns. Missing teeth on one side of the mouth can cause excessive chewing on the opposite side. This wears down teeth unnecessarily and can lead to jaw joint pain and associated symptoms including headaches, hearing loss, jaw popping, clicking or stiffness.
6. Missing teeth cause speech problems
Notice how many times your tongue contacts your teeth when you say one sentence, and you quickly realize the essential role teeth play in speech (5). Speech relies on the proper positioning of the tongue, lips and teeth, so when teeth are missing, excess air can pass between them causing a whistling sound or lisp.
Solutions to Replace Missing Teeth
Depending on your circumstance, you have several options to replace one, several, or all your teeth. Each treatment option has advantages and disadvantages to be considered before choosing the right solution for your needs. These solutions include:
1. Single Tooth Implant and Crown
A titanium post precisely placed in the jawbone replaces the root of the missing tooth. This implant prevents bone loss, allows for regular chewing forces, and feels like a natural tooth. Single tooth implants also permit normal brushing and flossing without any special dental devices such as floss threaders.
A porcelain crown attaches to the implant via a connecting abutment. It results in a natural-looking tooth as it becomes practically indistinguishable from the real thing.
As dental implants require surgery, not everyone is suitable for treatment. This when you may be recommended a dental bridge or partial denture instead.
2. Dental Bridge
A dental bridge is a fixed and non-surgical option for replacing one or more teeth in a row. Healthy teeth on either side of the gap are reinforced and strengthened using crowns to anchor the bridge in place. Receiving crowns involves some of the tooth enamel being removed before they are able to support a dental bridge.
Dental bridges prevent teeth from shifting and allow for normal chewing and speaking.
3. Fixed Implant Bridge
This solution is similar to a dental bridge only a fixed implant bridge is supported by several implants rather than existing healthy teeth. Fixed implant bridges can replace several teeth or a full arch (also known as All-On-4® full mouth implants) and offer many benefits, including superior stability, bone loss prevention, and a natural look and feel.
Treatment requires enough healthy jaw bone into which dental implants can be placed. When there’s not enough jaw bone to support dental implants, a bone grafting procedure may be recommended to build up the jaw bone.
While most healthy adults are suitable candidates for implants, they are some conditions that can complicate treatment such as advanced gum disease, some medical conditions, smoking and excess alcohol. It’s recommended that patients quit smoking before surgery to give implants the best chance of success.
Complete or partial dentures can replace all or several teeth reasonably quickly. Popular for their low cost, they do not require surgery and are easy to keep clean. They also require fewer appointments than other teeth replacement solutions.
There are several disadvantages to wearing dentures with the main one being they do not prevent jaw bone loss. Other challenges include dentures falling out of place, limiting the ability to taste food, affecting chewing force and nutrition, rubbing on gums, being susceptible to damage, and needing to be left out overnight.
Sedation Options for Anxious Patients
Perth Dental Implant Centre offers several sedation options for replacing missing teeth. While implant surgery is usually carried out following a local anaesthetic in the chair, we’re able to offer oral sedation, sleep dentistry (known as IV sedation) and also treatment under a general anaesthesia in day surgery.
If you’ve been putting off restoring your smile because of dental fear, there are a number of sedation options and coping strategies to help you through treatment.
Read our quick 3-minute blog on Coping with Dental Anxiety.