Occasionally, we get a patient coming in to ask about missing tooth options. What will happen if I lose this tooth? Do I really need to replace it?
It can be emotionally painful to have to see a tooth go. Some patients initially feel like they’re destined to have a space in their mouth forever.
Thankfully, patients have options for restoring a missing tooth.
But is it really worth the cost?
Patients come into my Calgary dentist office wondering if they really need to replace a missing tooth. As much as they hate having a space in their mouth, they don’t feel like they can justify the cost of a restoration.
To answer that question, let’s consider what will happen if someone loses a tooth and decides not to replace it.
First and foremost, I want to say this – tooth replacement is your decision. However, I highly recommend replacing missing teeth with dental implants or dental bridges.
We all face consequences for our decisions. It’s no different with dental decisions. And the consequences are not simply aesthetic.
The teeth will always shift to fill a space. The problem is that shifting messes up the patient’s occlusion, or the way their upper and lower teeth fit together.
And the teeth don’t just shift from side to side. Let’s say a patient loses an upper tooth and doesn’t replace it. The lower tooth adjacent to that open space will move upward.
The teeth fit together for a purpose: to keep them in their proper position so that we can chew and speak properly.
A patient dealing with malocclusion can face all sorts of problems: tooth pain, cracked or fractured teeth problems and more.
The jaw bone is dependent on teeth. Without them, the bone recedes. Even if one tooth is missing, the bone that surrounded that tooth will recede. This affects surrounding teeth, making them susceptible to bone loss as well.
Shifting teeth are more difficult to clean. People end up having to try and clean teeth that have shifted to really difficult angles. When the teeth aren’t cleaned properly, they are susceptible to decay and gum disease.
Malocclusion is one of the main contributing factors of temporomandibular joint disorder. When the teeth don’t fit together properly, it puts tension on the jaw joint and facial muscles. The most common symptom is pain – chronic headaches and even migraines.
The two most common treatment options provided at my Calgary dentist office for tooth replacement are dental implants and dental bridges.
Dental implants are pretty amazing. A metal rod is placed into the bone where the roots of the tooth used to be. Then, a tooth-shaped crown is placed on top of the implant.
Patients are able to eat normally, and homecare is super easy.
Implants are a great option for people with a good amount of bone. Even patients who’ve had full mouth extractions can have a denture that clips onto dental implants. The denture is more stable and the jaw bone stays strong.
A dental bridge connects the teeth on either side of the empty space. The front and back tooth are reduced in size so that dental crowns can fit over them. The crowns are fused together, with a third crown in the middle to replace the missing tooth.
This is a great option, but it does take some practice to floss around the bridge properly. And it’s best to stay away from foods that are hard, crunchy, or sticky.
When it comes to dental implants vs. dental bridges, which is better?
The answer is purely individual. When I see a patient with a missing tooth, I review their health and dental history, evaluate their oral health, and determine which treatment is better.
Many people think there’s no hope once they’ve lost a tooth. They feel like they simply have to deal with an open space, shifting teeth, or TMJ issues.
This isn’t the case!
When you come into my Calgary dentist office, I will determine which restoration option is best for your unique needs.
Losing a tooth can be extremely distressing. But if it does happen, or has happened, be assured – there’s plenty we can do to remedy the situation.