If you have missing teeth, you’re not alone. The average person aged 20-64 has at least three decayed or missing teeth. Living with missing teeth can cause discomfort, emotional stress, and a variety of health problems.
Today we’ll go over those problems, and then talk about how to prevent them. Even if you’re already having health problems due to missing teeth, there are dental solutions that can help you, so let’s get started!
Health consequences of missing teeth
Tooth decay and gum disease
When you first lose a tooth, the tender gum area left behind is a perfect environment for the bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay. Especially if gum disease was the original cause of your tooth loss, your gums might start to recede, which puts other nearby teeth at risk of decay or even further tooth loss.
Difficulty speaking and eating
Our teeth play an important role in our ability to speak, and gaps can make it difficult to pronounce certain words. Eating may be difficult too. Depending on where your missing teeth are, you might have trouble biting tough foods. A gap near the back of your mouth probably isn’t visible when you smile, but it might affect your ability to chew.
Shifting of nearby teeth
When a tooth is missing, it’s common for the adjacent teeth to shift, as though they were trying to close the gap. If other teeth start moving, you could end up with an improper bite (called malocclusion), which can cause tension and strain in your jaw, face, head, and neck. At this point, you’re at risk for:
- Bruxism (clenching and/or grinding the teeth, sometimes during sleep without knowing it)
- Wear and tear on the biting surfaces of your teeth
- Tooth pain
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
If lost teeth aren’t replaced, you can actually experience bone loss in your jaw — especially if you have multiple teeth missing. This process continues over time, and can ultimately result in a visible “shrinking in” of your mouth, which changes the shape of your face and leads to sagging skin around the mouth and jaw. Here’s why it happens:
All the bones in our bodies are constantly breaking down and rebuilding themselves, including our jaw bones. Weight-bearing physical activity stimulates the growth of new bone tissue. For your jaw, that means chewing and biting. The areas of your jaw bone that don’t have teeth aren’t getting the stimulus they need to keep up a normal rate of bone formation, so the bone breaks down faster than it rebuilds itself.
Loss of confidence
Whether it’s because of a visible gap or because of difficulty speaking, missing teeth can affect a person’s self-esteem. We all use our smiles to express emotion and connect with other people, so caring about the look of your smile is human nature. In a 2015 survey, adults in the United States reported the following with respect to the condition of their mouth and teeth:
- 1 in 4 avoid smiling
- 23% feel embarrassment
- 1 in 5 experience anxiety
How to avoid these problems: replace missing teeth
The best way to avoid all these issues is to replace your missing teeth. Dental implants are the best and most permanent solution by far, because they look and function just like real teeth. When properly cared for, they should last the rest of your life, and you can care for them just like regular teeth. They address all of the potential health problems listed above too.
- Allow you to speak normally and eat your favorite foods
- Stop your teeth from shifting and preserve a healthy, well-aligned bite
- Prevent bone loss (because they are inserted directly into your jaw bone)
- Restore the appearance of your smile
Dental implants vs. other restoration options
Other than dental implants, the most common options for restoring missing teeth are bridges and dentures. Dentures don’t prevent bone loss and can easily slip out of place when you’re talking or eating.
A bridge is a false tooth (or multiple teeth) held in place by crowns on adjacent teeth. While bridges do help restore the function and appearance of your smile, they don’t prevent bone loss as well as implants. Plus, we don’t have to alter any adjacent teeth in order to place implants, so you get to preserve all your other healthy teeth.
Dental implants don’t have to be scary
The reason dental implants are so effective is that they essentially recreate the root of your missing tooth, which means they’re inserted directly into your jaw bone. At Sedation Dentistry of Sunny Isles, we go above and beyond to make the procedure as easy as possible. Here’s how:
Sedation dentistry: We can help reduce or even eliminate anxiety during your appointment. Whether you just want to take the edge off your nerves, or you want to be completely “out” for your appointment, we offer a wide variety of sedation options and can tailor our approach to your needs.
- Nitrous oxide — a.k.a. laughing gas
- Oral sedation — a prescription medication you take before your appointment
- Conscious IV sedation — puts you in a twilight sleep and leaves you with little to no memory of your procedure, but you’ll still be alert enough to communicate and follow instructions
- General anesthesia — which allows you to be completely “asleep” for your treatment
Patient comfort: In addition to sedation, we create a calming, safe environment to help our patients relax. Our office design is soothing and our whole staff is gentle and friendly. We also offer you noise-cancelling headphones, a private treatment suite, warm blankets, aromatherapy, and other amenities.
Advanced technology: Employing the latest technology means better results for you. It also makes your implant procedure faster, more comfortable, and less stressful. For example, we offer:
- 3D imaging instead of messy impressions
- CBCT scans, which provide pinpoint accuracy, ensuring a perfect fit when placing implants
A natural, non-invasive treatment called platelet rich fibrin, which accelerates your body’s own natural healing process to help you recover faster and more comfortably
Take control of your health and replace your missing teeth
Our award winning doctors are here to talk to you about your options and restore the health and appearance of your smile. If dental anxiety has prevented you from getting treatment in the past, we can help with that too. Request an appointment today or call us at (786) 776-2753.