Replacement of missing teeth

A number of issues can contribute to tooth loss, including wear, cancer, injury and gum disease.  Although there are costs associated with replacing a missing tooth, the real question is what the costs are of not replacing a missing tooth?

Aside from aesthetics, there are real issues and dangers present in not replacing missing teeth.  In this article, we will discuss the long term risks and costs associated with not replacing a missing tooth, therefore allowing an understanding of the importance of tooth replacement options.

Not replacing a missing tooth can lead to bone loss

Bone loss (or bone resorption) is one of the most significant dangers associated with not replacing a missing tooth.  Why does bone loss occur after a tooth is gone?  Natural roots of the tooth leave a void as they are no longer embedded into the jawbone.  This results in the jawbone deteriorating over time.

Other than the tooth which is missing, unfortunately bone resorption can also impact neighbouring teeth which can in turn result in a loss of more teeth.  This will eventually cause gradual changes in facial appearance and lips may look sunken and asymmetrical.

Another risk factor of a missing tooth (or teeth) is the increased chance of developing gum disease in the area where the tooth had previously existed, or even potentially suffering from  tooth decay in neighbouring teeth.

Ability to eat certain foods is reduced and remaining dentition impacted

Not only can tooth loss affect appearance, yet not replacing a missing tooth can mean that the ability to eat certain types of foods are reduced. It may become difficult to bite or chew certain foods depending on which tooth/teeth are missing. This will likely lead to other teeth being overused to compensate for the missing tooth/teeth.

Overall, this can eventually lead to diminished health and poor nutrition. For example, a common side effect of missing teeth can be digestive issues as you begin to eat softer foods or don’t fully chew foods before swallowing.

Self esteem and confidence reduction

Following the risk factors which were mentioned in the above examples, there are also other intangible effects a missing tooth can have that can have a negative impact on everyday life.

Social life and employment can be impacted if the space from a missing tooth can be seen when smiling, eating or speaking and could reduce confidence in maintaining social interactions around other individuals.  Additionally, if gum disease is caused by the missing tooth, bad breath can also accelerate confidence reduction.

Now finally, which options are there to replace missing teeth?

As highlighted above, there are a numerous amount of potential risks and costs of not replacing a missing tooth which are often dismissed.  There are a variety of replacement options available, these include the most popular and long term option – dental implants, followed by more short term options such as dentures and dental bridges.

Dental implants are the most long term and permanent resolution in replacing missing teeth, and additionally are more sturdy and durable compared with other short term options.  The jawbone is also preserved using this method as the titanium post which is used for the implant is designed to fuse with the jawbone over time – therefore stimulating growth and minimizing possibility of bone resorption.  Dental implants can also assist in confidence restoration as they have the closest resemblance in look and feel to real teeth.