old man taking out his dentures

Missing Teeth and the Problems They Cause

old man taking out his dentures

Most people will have 32 teeth in their mouth once they’ve fully developed and have lost all their baby teeth. Sometimes the wisdom teeth (or 3rd molars) must be taken out, leaving an adult with 28 teeth. Besides the removal of these molars, people can experience tooth loss due to a number of reasons such as:

– Periodontal/gum disease

– Disease (such as diabetes & hypertension)

– Smoking (past or present)

– Neglecting professional and home dental care

– Poor nutrition

– Physical injury or trauma

While some of the factors listed above are not preventable, many of them are under our control. Even if the missing tooth is a molar all the way in the back of the mouth, which does not impact the way you look, it may affect what you eat or your speech.

What happens if you don’t replace the missing teeth?

Teeth serve as place holders and are designed to support one another. This is important because our teeth are constantly shifting throughout our lives. This shifting occurs because the bone that holds teeth in place is always remodeling itself. If one tooth is missing, your bone will take advantage of the gap that it has left behind and will start shifting the adjacent teeth to fill in that spot. Also, a missing tooth on the bottom arch can begin to shift downward if it does not have an opposing neighbor. On top of all of this, the bone loss is expected since the bone has nothing to work for by not having a tooth to hold on to.

Unfortunately, our body’s mechanism of shifting teeth is not beneficial. Teeth shifting into a spot which they don’t belong in can affect your occlusion (how you bite) and can lead to worse problems, like gum disease. If the shifting causes crowding, cleaning in between your teeth can become difficult and may create an opportunity for bacteria to survive.

Tooth replacement options

Dentists work hard with their patients to replace missing teeth. The location of the space, amount of remaining bone, and overall smile characteristics of the patient are just some important items considered when planning for tooth replacement. The following replacement options can be completed at River Oaks Dental:

1. Bridges – supported by the adjacent teeth; a good option when one or a few teeth are missing

2. Dentures – either a partial or full denture depending on the number of teeth missing; cannot prevent bone loss from occurring

3. Implants – the most similar to a natural tooth; can replace just one tooth or an entire arch; most stable option

Don’t let missing teeth cause you any physical or emotional discomfort! Dr. Monteiro can further discuss replacement options with you and help you decide what would work best with you and your lifestyle. Call River Oaks Dental at 904-348-0416 to schedule an appointment – let’s get started on your treatment plan!

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