Each of your 32 adult teeth is important for chewing and grinding up food, for helping you to speak clearly and by allowing you to express emotions with your smile. Your teeth are also important to the structure of your mouth and face. If even one tooth is missing, leaving the gaping space vacant where it should contain a tooth can have serious consequences. Here is why it’s so important to replace missing teeth.
Missing teeth can cause the bite pressure to shift onto other teeth, causing the surrounding teeth to move into the gap and making it easier for plaque to build up. This can result in gum infections, leading to the loss of more teeth. The bone that used to surround the tooth can also begin to deteriorate and erode, affecting the structure and support of your mouth.
There are various treatments available to replace lost teeth; these options are based on what tooth or teeth are missing and the condition of the surrounding teeth. If you are missing one or more teeth, your dentist may recommend:
Dental Implants, which provide a secure foundation for artificial teeth. Dental implants, which are comprised of a post that is secured to the jaw and covered with a crown or artificial tooth, looks and feels like your own teeth. Dental implants may cost a bit and the process from start to finish may take some time, but they are probably your best option to regain the magical smile and dental health you need to ensure your mouth stays beautiful, healthy and strong.
Fixed Bridges. Bridges are devices that are anchored to adjacent teeth; they contain filler teeth, called pontics, designed to blend in perfectly with your teeth and by all means appear to be a very natural part of your smile. Bridges are great alternatives to implants, except that to sustain the bridge, portions of adjacent teeth must be ground down so the bridge may be attached. This may not be an option for those whose anchor teeth demonstrate decay, damage or infection; likewise, if potential anchor teeth are very healthy, your dentist may advise against grinding them down.
Full Dentures. When you’re missing the majority of the upper or lower row of teeth, you may need complete dentures, also known as conventional dentures. You’ll have to have all teeth removed before you’re fitted for dentures, which are removable and are secured with or without adhesive. Dentures may be an adequate short-term solution for missing teeth, but don’t always look or feel natural. Also, dentures must fit properly at risk of injury to the gums, including infection and increased susceptibility for certain oral cancers.
Removable Partial Dentures. If there’s a small portion of the mouth that is missing teeth, partial dentures may be used as replacement teeth. Partial dentures are attached to a plastic base supported by the gums and remaining teeth. Similar to full dentures, they must be taken out for cleaning regularly and must fit properly to ensure good dental health and hygiene.
Cosmetic Dentures. Standard dentures are formed with a heat curing process, whereas cosmetic dentures have a special acrylic base that prevents shrinkage, and also looks and feels more like natural teeth.
By the time we reach ages 45-65, most of us have at least one tooth missing. In fact, one-quarter of Americans over age 65 have lost all their teeth as a result of gum disease, decay or injury. Losing a tooth is detrimental to your health and can be expensive. Why wait until then to address your smile? Try to keep every tooth by visiting your primary care dentist at least twice a year to maintain good oral health. In Broward County, there is no better dentist than Dr. Ernie Soto. Dr. Soto and his staff are committed to providing patients of all ages the comprehensive dental care they want, as well as the cosmetic and implant dentistry they need to keep them smiling. Call Dr. Soto today at (954) 368-6264 or request an appointment online.