Dr. Nahid Afshari
Fix that Missing Tooth
5 Reasons to Fix That Gap in Your Mouth
Many people don’t realize that when you lose a tooth there can be damage caused over time if the tooth is not replaced. Here is what can happen:
A missing tooth can affect your chewing. Each tooth plays an important role in processing food and having one missing changes the natural way this occurs. Also, the adjacent teeth can experience more force to compensate for the missing tooth causing damage to them.
When we lose a tooth we no longer get the stress that is exerted on the jaw area where the tooth is missing. Without that stress the density of the jaw can diminish. Chewing on teeth anchored in and around the jaw provides the optimal way to stress and exercise the density of the jaw bones. It’s basically the principle of ‘use it or lose it’ regarding the jaw bone.
The teeth on either side of the missing tooth space will move and tilt off their proper vertical axis and drift into the missing tooth’s space. This can make these teeth more prone to decay and gum disease because it is much harder to keep the teeth clean when they are not aligned properly.
Root structure that is normally covered by gum and bone may become exposed.
Appearance can also suffer because of tooth loss. An empty space is quite noticeable in a smile.
The bottom line is that the longer you wait to replace a missing tooth the more damage you risk to your remaining teeth and your bone structure. The best solution is to replace the missing tooth and preserve your teeth and jaw bone.
Dental implants are replacement tooth roots. Implants provide a strong foundation for fixed (permanent) or removable replacement teeth that are made to match your natural teeth.
Pros: Some of the advantages to implants are improved appearance, improved speech, improved comfort and they are durable and will last many years and could last a lifetime. It will help with the problem of deteriorating jaw bone because there will be a “tooth” there to create the force of a natural tooth.
Cons: It is a more expensive procedure than other solutions and requires multiple visits to complete the procedure. Also, it is metal inserted into your gums and some dentists feel the long-term effects are not yet fully known.
A bridge is a prosthetic tooth fixed to one or both (usually both) adjacent teeth and is not removed. A dental bridge is used to bridge the gap caused by tooth loss between the teeth. The conventional bridge uses a crown-type structure on the supporting teeth with the prosthetic tooth attached to the side. The bridge may be made of porcelain-metal, or metal-free zirconia (a high strength white mineral).
Pros: Costs much less than an implant and can usually be completed within two visits. It replaces your missing teeth and it restores the function of your teeth – like chewing and speaking properly. It prevents your remaining teeth from shifting which causes problem in your bite.
Cons: The two teeth on either side of the bridge have to be “shaved down” in order to fix the bridge on them which means healthy enamel that protects the teeth is being taken away so they are at risk of tooth decay occurring. While it is possible that the bridge will help bone loss but this is not guaranteed.
A REMOVABLE PARTIAL DENTURE:
A removable partial denture is made of a resin base into which artificial teeth are inserted and are custom made by the lab from models of your mouth. It is held in place by metal clasps that may be visible.
Pros: They cost less than a fixed replacement. They are less invasive and have a lower cost than other tooth replacement options. In some cases, additional teeth may be added to the partial over time. Partials are a much better option than a complete denture to replace lost teeth in your lower jaw if some natural teeth can be saved.
Cons: It may take some getting used to because they tend to be a bit bulkier than just having a normal tooth in place but if it fitted correctly this feeling usually goes away in a short time. Sticky foods such as soft candies and cheese can stick to them and cause them to come out. They can increase the build-up of plaque around the abutment teeth which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Trauma to the abutment teeth or gums can occur from pressure or movement of the partial. Bone loss at the sites of missing teeth can occur and over time can affect adjacent teeth. The loss of an abutment tooth may require you to get a new partial.
In summary, there are pros and cons to each solution for a missing tooth. Unfortunately, there is no one perfect solution. But, one thing is definite, doing nothing and leaving an empty space is going to cause more trouble than doing something about it and getting the missing tooth replaced by one of the solutions above. The best thing to do is make an appointment and I will talk it over with you, so you have all the information and can make an informed decision.
Here’s to your beautiful smile.