Understanding tooth loss and treatment options.
Your teeth are one-of-a-kind. No other teeth out there are exactly like them—your bite is just as unique as a fingerprint! They carry out vital tasks in your everyday life, too, helping you to eat, speak, and express yourself. Your teeth even impact your self-confidence and help keep your jaw bone healthy! As a result, losing one or more teeth can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re having a hard time understanding what causes tooth loss and what your tooth replacement options are—or even why you need to replace it in the first place.
Thankfully, you’re not going through this alone! Losing a tooth is never ideal, but it doesn’t need to be scary. Our priority is ensuring that you have a healthy smile you love, so we’ll help you regain a smile that’s healthy, happy, and naturally bright. The first step is helping you understand the ins and outs of losing a tooth and tooth replacement. Here’s a guide on what you need to know about missing teeth and your tooth replacement options.
Causes of Missing Teeth
There are a few main causes of tooth loss, including severe cavities, gum disease, and dental injuries like severely cracked, broken, or knocked-out teeth that couldn’t be repaired. Several risk factors can make you more vulnerable to issues like cavities and gum disease, such as diabetes, autoimmune conditions, smoking, poor nutrition, and more. Thankfully, whether you have risk factors or not, it’s usually very easy to prevent these causes of tooth loss! You can prevent most oral health issues by committing to a regular oral hygiene routine, visiting your dentist twice a year, wearing a mouthguard during contact sports, and making changes to help lower any increased risk you may have.
Benefits of Replacing Missing Teeth
Our teeth do a lot more than we realize, so replacing a missing tooth can have a surprisingly positive impact on your oral health as a whole, helping to restore and protect it for years to come! Replacing one or more missing teeth can make it easier to eat and speak and improve your self-confidence, both of which are incredibly important to your daily life. But the benefits go much deeper than that!
Tooth replacement treatments can also keep your teeth from shifting into the new gap in your smile, which in turn protects the appearance of your smile and the way your bite fits together, while also helping to prevent potential temporomandibular joint issues from a shifting bite. Keeping your teeth from moving also makes it easier to clean your teeth thoroughly, helping you to prevent future cavities and gum disease. Depending on the treatment you choose, replacing missing teeth can even protect the long-term health of your jaw bone itself. So when you lose a tooth, replacing it restores and protects the appearance and function of that tooth while also helping to protect your long-term oral health!
Tooth Replacement Options
Since there are so many potential benefits to replacing missing teeth, it’s natural to want to choose the highest quality tooth replacement option available. Thankfully, modern dentistry offers a wide range of tooth replacement options for you to choose from, each of which is custom-made for you. You’re able to choose the size, shape, and shade of your new restoration, designing new teeth that will become a natural part of your smile. Having access to these options can feel overwhelming at first, but it helps you find the treatment that fits your needs and wants best.
A dental bridge is a porcelain restoration that’s used to restore one or more missing teeth. Much like its namesake, a bridge consists of a crown on either end that acts as a foundation for the prosthetic tooth or teeth between them. These crowns are secured over the healthy teeth next to the gap in your smile, holding the bridge securely in place. Dental bridges are easy to care for, requiring the same amount of good oral hygiene as your natural teeth. You only need to add one quick extra step to clean underneath the prosthetic tooth on your bridge, as this helps keep the gums underneath it healthy. If you practice good oral hygiene, a dental bridge can last around 10 years or more.
Partial or Full Dentures
If you’re missing multiple or all of your teeth, partial or full dentures can restore their appearance and function. Dentures are prosthetic teeth made from resin or porcelain attached to an acrylic or nylon base made to look like your gums. Thanks to improved materials and a smile design custom-made for you, today’s dentures look incredibly realistic. No one should be able to tell that you have them! There are several different types of dentures, such as removable partial dentures or fixed partial dentures to replace multiple teeth, and traditional dentures to replace one or both dental arches.
No matter which type you decide to get, you’ll need to follow the care instructions closely to ensure they last as long as possible. This includes cleaning them every day, taking them out at night to give your gums and jaws a break, and never letting them dry out. Partial dentures have the potential to last 15 years if they’re well cared for, while full dentures will likely need to be replaced every five to 10 years. Dentures that fit well shouldn’t slip in your mouth, but bone loss can change the way full dentures fit over time. To combat this, they’ll also need yearly examinations and regular adjustments to ensure they continue fitting well.
Dental implants are a unique tooth replacement option because they replace your entire tooth—including the tooth root. To do this, a titanium metal rod is embedded into your jaw bone just like a tooth root, then fitted with a restoration. A single implant can be fitted with a crown to replace one tooth, but multiple implants can also be fitted with a bridge or dentures. This makes implant restorations incredibly flexible, capable of meeting your unique treatment needs. Once you receive your implants and restorations, they’re incredibly easy to care for, needing the same at-home care as natural teeth. When you take good care of them, your implants have the potential to last a lifetime—they’ll never need to be replaced!
Benefits of Dental Implants
Your tooth roots play an essential role in the function of your teeth as well as the health of your mouth and jaw. Since dental implants are the only tooth replacement option that replaces the root of your tooth as well as the crown, they provide benefits beyond those of other tooth replacement options. Placing implants directly into your jaw makes them secure to begin with, but titanium is also biocompatible. This means that the bone grows around the metal post in your jaw just like it would a natural tooth root. This gives implants added strength and stability, allowing implant restorations to feel and function like natural teeth. Even implant-supported dentures allow you to eat any food you want—including steak, corn on the cob, or whole apples—without worrying about their stability!
The most monumental benefit of dental implants is their ability to stimulate the jaw bone just like a natural tooth root, telling the body to continue delivering nutrients to the bone. This prevents bone loss, keeping your jaws healthy and protecting your face shape from that sunken-in look in the long term. Dental implants are the only tooth replacement option capable of doing this! With unique benefits like this, you might be wondering, “How much are dental implants?” The answer is that it depends on how many you’re getting, where you’re getting them placed, what dental restoration you choose, and what materials they’re made from. At first glance, dental implants are the most expensive tooth replacement option, but their ability to last a lifetime combined with their unique benefits makes them worth it for many patients.
Let Millennium Dental help you choose the best tooth replacement option for you.
While your teeth are one-of-a-kind, losing one or more is far from the end. It’s always ideal to keep your natural teeth when you can, but modern dentistry has many tooth replacement options that will help you regain your healthy, functional, and beautiful smile. If you have any questions about tooth replacement options and which may work best for you, feel free to call and schedule an appointment with Dr. Harrison at any time.