Remember that kid’s song “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth”? The kid singing was always cute and had a lisp because his teeth were missing. Well, if you have missing teeth as an adult, it isn’t really that cute. It makes you self-conscious, it makes it harder to enjoy your favorite foods, and missing teeth can affect your bone, jaw and dental health for years to come.
Missing Teeth? You Are Not Alone
Missing teeth is a common occurrence in adulthood with the American College of Prosthodontists estimating that at least 120 million Americans have lost at least one tooth during adulthood. The good news is your self-confidence can be restored this holiday season by choosing to replace missing or damaged teeth. Modern dental technology offers a number of ways to replace missing teeth, so there is a way to get your holiday smile back.
Causes of Tooth Loss
There are a number of reasons an individual loses a tooth. Tooth loss could be a result of a serious injury. Any form of trauma, such as a car accident or sports injury, could knock one or more teeth out of your mouth.
Tooth decay that is not managed through regular dental care can also cause a tooth to fall out. As the decay spreads to the root of the tooth, the tooth may need to be pulled or fall out on its own accord.
Gum disease, or periodontal disease, is a leading cause of tooth loss, as well as being related to other health problems, including heart disease. Bacteria build up around the gums, infecting the surrounding area. As the infected gums start to recede, tooth loss is imminent. This is one reason dentists encourage daily flossing as well as regular cleanings and checkups that help you keep your gums healthy.
A number of pre-existing medical conditions could put a patient at risk for tooth loss. For instance, patients with diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain forms of arthritis are more likely to experience tooth loss.
Consequences of Tooth Loss
When you have missing teeth, you are likely to experience a number of mental and physical effects. You could feel shy over your smile and may have an overall dissatisfaction about your appearance. During a 2015 oral health study, 58 percent of participants with tooth loss felt it had a negative effect on their social lives and self-esteem. They were also more prone to bouts of depression. When you have tooth loss, you may withdraw from social events due to embarrassment over your appearance.
Missing teeth lead to health complications as well. The bones in the jaw where the teeth are missing have the potential to atrophy since they are no longer being stimulated through the act of chewing. The tissue in the jawbone will dissolve continuously until the tooth is restored. The shrinking of the jawbone causes evident facial sagging.
Another issue is remaining teeth in the mouth may move when a tooth is missing and create gaps between teeth. Consequently, the drifting teeth put you at risk for gum disease and further tooth loss. Also, eating certain foods can become a challenge when you are missing teeth. Meats, raw vegetables, and nuts are difficult to chew when you are missing a number of teeth, and without these items in your diet, there’s a risk for malnutrition.
Four Treatments for Tooth Loss
Here are the four most common treatments for lost or heavily damaged teeth:
- Dental Bridges: Dental bridges are fixed appliances that permanently replace missing teeth in the mouth. A bridge uses two anchor teeth to cement the artificial teeth in place. Even if the anchor teeth are perfectly healthy, they must be cut down as a way to connect the teeth together. Porcelain crowns need to go over the cut teeth as a way to fix the bridge in place. Typically, bridges will have two or more artificial teeth set between the two porcelain crowns.
- Dentures: Unlike bridges, dentures are a removable option for tooth replacement. Dentures feature a plate that holds artificial teeth and will suction to the gums to stay in place. Dentures are used to replace all teeth on the upper or lower jaw. In comparison, partial dentures are used when you still have some natural teeth. They leave spaces on the plate to accommodate the remaining healthy teeth.
- Dental Veneers: Dental veneers are an option for damaged teeth that have yet to be pulled. Teeth that have been worn down, broken, or chipped could be cosmetically repaired with veneers. Veneers are traditionally made from porcelain and colored to match surrounding teeth. They are very thin and fit like a shell over the damaged tooth. Veneers will be permanently bonded to the teeth.
- Dental Implants: Dental implants are the preferred option for tooth restoration because the procedure replaces both the crown and root, creating a stable, permanent replacement of your natural teeth. A post is embedded into the jawbone to act as a new root and once the bone has healed, a ceramic or porcelain crown is attached. No surrounding teeth are impacted by a dental implant procedure.
Dental Implant Dentist in Las Vegas
Today’s dental implants are the best, long-term solution to tooth loss. Dental implants have the appearance of real teeth and function in the same exact manner. Once in place, dental implants feel like your own teeth. You’ll enjoy a healthy smile and won’t have to worry about your face changing shape due to bone loss.
And, you’ll never cringe when you hear the song “All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth” again.
Jesus Medina, DDS in Las Vegas offers dental care, including dental implants, to patients in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson in his Las Vegas dental office conveniently located off I-95 and Rainbow in Las Vegas. Contact Dr. Medina today at 702-368-3627 to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Medina is a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). Advanced General Dentistry, with a practice in Las Vegas Nevada since 1988. He offers general and family dentistry, with a specialization in cosmetic and restorative dental services.