Are you missing a tooth? If so, you’re not alone. Over 178 million people in the United States are missing teeth, and that number is expected to increase in the next twenty years, according to the American College of Prosthodontics. Our dentist at Wimmer Dental Care in Centennial has seen tooth occur because of wear, injury, cancer, and gum disease. But do you wonder what happens if I don’t replace a missing tooth?
When you look in the mirror, you may discover that missing teeth make you look older, and some people think, less attractive.
You may experience additional health issues including diabetes, nutritional changes, coronary artery disease, obesity, and some kinds of cancer.
Bone loss is another problem if you don’t replace a missing tooth. This is called bone resorption. Osteoclasts break down the tissue in your bones which releases the mineral and transfers the calcium from the bone tissue to the blood. This happens when a tooth is missing because the tooth’s natural roots are no longer in the jawbone. This leaves a space, and over time it causes the jawbone to deteriorate.
But here’s the real problem. Not only does it impact the area of the missing tooth, but it also impacts the healthy teeth around it and puts you at risk of losing even more teeth from decay. It also increases the chance you will get gum disease in the missing tooth area.
It can also change the way your face looks, changing its shape, and your lips may look asymmetrical and sunken.
A missing tooth may also reduce your ability to eat certain types of foods. Depending on the location, it may be hard for you to bite or chew certain types of food. If this is the case, sometimes you begin to overuse other teeth to compensate for the things you can’t do because of the missing tooth. This may lead to poor nutrition and consequently diminish your health. You may experience digestive issues from eating softer foods or not fully chewing foods before swallowing.
Again, depending on which teeth are missing, it can affect the way you speak. Particularly if you are missing your front teeth, you may not be able to clearly pronounce certain words. Some people develop a lisp or can’t pronounce certain sounds. This can impact communication, limit social interactions, and potential jobs.
With a tooth missing that can be noticed, you may not want to smile or speak as much. This affects almost all aspects of your life. In addition, if your missing tooth is from gum disease, you may also have bad breath. Both of these things create social and professional barriers.
Now that you know what happens if I don’t replace a missing tooth let’s talk treatment. There are a few options, including dental bridges, a partial denture, dental implants, and full dentures.
Dental implants are sturdy, durable, and compared to the other options, much longer lasting. In addition to offering these benefits, dental implants can also help you preserve your jawbone because the titanium post used for the implant will actually fuse with the jawbone over time. This helps to continue stimulating growth and minimizes the potential for bone loss. Dental implants will also help restore your confidence since they look and feel like real teeth after the installation process is complete.
A bridge or partial denture over implants can work if you have two or more teeth missing next to each other. One or two implants can help be the anchor for a bridge or partial denture. This way you don’t have to use healthy teeth to support the bridge and your removable partial denture won’t need clasps because it can connect right to the dental implant.
Overdentures or full dentures over implants may also work for you. This combines implants and dentures. A full denture arch can be attached to 4 or 6 dental implants. The implants are most commonly placed two or more at a time. This allows you to get the implants over time, and still wear the full denture while it heals. When all of the implants are in place, the denture clips to the implants with a special abutment. Most people feel this allows their dentures to look and fit more natural. You can remove the dentures at night to be cleaned and maintained, but when they’re in, they are secure and won’t fall out. You can continue to have more implants placed, and just use a bridge or single implants instead of dentures.
Of course, if you are just missing one tooth, single dental implants may be your answer. A small dental bridge can also help with a single missing tooth. Full or partial dentures can also help replace missing teeth in a row.
Our dentist, Dr. Matthew Wimmer is thoroughly trained in all aspects of dental implants. All dental implant procedures take place in our office, so there is no need to be referred to another doctor’s office.
We also offer computer guided dental implant surgery. With this method, all aspects of your implant surgery are planned using a 3D model of your jaw with a special computer program. The computer program generates a surgical guide that allows Dr. Wimmer to place your new dental implants exactly where we planned them in the computer.
There are many benefits to dental implants, including:
- Avoids shaving other teeth down for a bridge.
- Offers a higher long-term success rate than conventional crowns and bridges.
- Keeps the denture from moving around or falling out while eating.
- Removes the part of the upper denture that covers the roof of your mouth in some cases.
So, if you want answers to your question about what happens if I don’t replace a missing tooth, make an appointment with our office at Wimmer Dental Care in Centennial, and the doctor will sit down with you to discuss your options. We’ll also take a look at your budget, lifestyle, and insurance coverage to determine the best course of action. Tooth loss isn’t the end. Let us give you back your smile. Call today to schedule your appointment.