For most adults, the biggest downside of missing teeth is embarrassment. Missing one or more teeth makes your smile look incomplete, and you may feel compelled to cover your mouth when talking or laughing around other people.
However, the impact of missing teeth doesn't end with aesthetics. If you have lost one or more teeth, there are a variety of health and functionality reasons to replace them.
Issues Caused by Tooth Loss
The roots of the teeth are anchored to the upper or lower jaw bone. Everyday activities like chewing, speaking, and more stimulate the bone and strengthen the connection between tooth root and the bone tissue.
When you lose a tooth and don't replace it, the jaw bone will weaken over time. Loss of density starts locally where the missing tooth used to be, but gradually impacts the rest of the jaw and eventually the entire face. This can lead to a number of unwanted effects:
- Sagging, prematurely aged look to the face
- Gum recession and loss of support for nearby teeth, reducing function and durability
- Difficulty chewing, reducing not only the foods you can eat but impacting nutrition as well
- Trouble speaking
- Poor self-esteem
- Misalignment of your bite, potentially resulting in teeth grinding, TMJ disorder, and other issues
Tooth loss is oftentimes the result of underlying oral health issues. If left untreated, tooth decay, gum disease, and other problems can cost you more teeth. Therefore, always take the loss of a tooth seriously; you may prevent the failure and loss of additional teeth through timely action.
Replacement Options for Missing Teeth
The interaction between the jaw bone and the teeth is the reason dental implants are considered the gold standard for tooth replacement. It is the only treatment option that restores both the gap in your smile and the underlying structure that results in optimal functionality.
Dental implants refer specifically to the artificial tooth root installed below the gum line. Depending on your needs, Dr. Phelps can recommend several restoration options:
- Dental crown: Crowns restore a single tooth. Dr. Phelps custom fabricates a crown to fit your dental implant and complement your natural teeth.
- Dentures: Strategically positioned dental implants can support a partial or complete denture. Unlike your grandparent's dentures, the implants hold the denture securely in placing, making it possible for you to eat the foods you love, speak without fear of slippage, and more.
A dental bridge is another suitable option for filling the gap left by one or more missing teeth, improving the appearance of your smile and restoring some functionality. However, bridges are anchored to nearby teeth, not the underlying root structure like dental implants. Therefore, although they rejuvenate your smile and assist to an extent with chewing and other functions, a dental bridge does not help with bone loss.
Learn About Your Tooth Replacement Options
Dr. John R. Phelps is a prosthodontist, meaning he is a dentist who specializes in advanced treatment options for the restoration of missing and failing teeth. He has extensive experience with dental implants, implant-supported dentures, and other options to replace your missing tooth or teeth.
Find out the best option for your smile, tooth function, and oral health needs. Call 317-818-9858 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Phelps at our office in Indianapolis. We serve patients in Carmel, Noblesville, and nearby areas of Indiana.