We would love it if every patient could keep all their teeth for life, but …
We also know that things happen. More than 90 percent of people will get at least one cavity. More than half of all people will develop gum disease at one time or another — and gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States.
And accidents will happen. We’ve treated countless people who lost a tooth because of a trip, a fall, or as a result taking their eye off a baseball.
The best way to replace your missing tooth is to start with a dental implant at the office of Jennifer Perkins, DDS. Simply put, an implant and a crown is the closest thing you can get to having your natural tooth back again.
To find out what an implant could do for you, keep reading or call our office in Huntsville, AL to schedule an appointment. You can reach us at 256-801-0002.
A Missing Tooth is a Problem
We can’t list every possible circumstance that could cause you to lose one of your teeth. We can assure you, however, that leaving that gap in your smile is not a good idea.
From a dental perspective, you should replace any teeth that you lose.
A lost tooth can lead to a number of other problems:
- Loss of self-confidence
- Problems eating certain foods
- Changes in your bite
- More tooth loss
The self-confidence issue is something we have observed with patients of all ages and backgrounds. Some people feel embarrassed or ashamed about losing a tooth, which makes them hesitant to smile, speak, or do anything that would let anyone else see the gap in their smile.
This can make everyday interactions awkward. If one person feels compelled to hide his or her teeth behind a hand or by looking down, it could make it harder for the other person to focus on what you are trying to say.
Eating is a different issue. When you are missing a tooth — any tooth — it could affect your ability to bite or chew certain foods. You may think you can get around this by biting or chewing more on the other side of your mouth, but this is what contributes to the next issue.
When you bite and chew, your teeth feel pressure. When you have a full set of teeth, you probably won’t see any changes in the alignment of your smile. But if just one tooth is missing, nearby teeth can “drift” into that open space as a result of the normal pressure from biting and chewing.
As that happens, it can change how your teeth fit together. This can make your smile look less attractive, and make it even harder to bite and chew.
This also can help explain why a missing tooth can increase your risk of losing more teeth. When you use some teeth more often than other, they will naturally experience more wear and tear. At the same time, the rest of your teeth are more likely to drift the longer you leave an empty space in your smile.
Even so, there is one more problem that you can’t see but may be the biggest reason more teeth could be at risk.
Your roots are anchored in place by your jawbone. The stability that provides is what allows you to generate more than enough force to bite and chew practically any food you want to eat.
But this relationship is actually a two-way street. Your roots also help keep your jaw health, and the more teeth you have, the better!
Your roots press into your jawbone every time you bite or chew. Your jawbone creates new bone tissue as a direct response to that pressure. Without that pressure, your jaw won’t make that new tissue.
This is important because old tissue is regularly absorbed back into your body. If it isn’t replaced, then your jaw will begin to shrink anyone you don’t have a root (or a replacement) to provide this pressure.
In the part of your mouth where a single tooth is missing, you could lose up to 25 percent of your bone mass within 12 months. This is part of the reason nearby teeth also can be at risk of falling out over time.
And if you lose another tooth, this process can happen more quickly, putting even more teeth at risk.
The best way to avoid this problem would be to replace the missing tooth as soon as you are able.
Building a Solid Foundation
When you want to build anything to last, you have to start with a solid, secure foundation.
That’s just as true in restorative dentistry as it is in construction.
Dental implants provide that foundation for tooth replacement.
Implants are a prosthetic device that replaces the root of your teeth. This is similar to getting an artificial leg or foot. The difference is that since your roots are usually not visible, no one will know that you have an implant unless you tell them about it.
For a patient who is missing a single tooth, an implant acts like a natural root would. It holds the dental crown securely in position, and it functions like the root as well. That means when you bite or chew with your implant-supported crown, it will create pressure, prompting your jawbone to keep making new bone tissue.
As a result, you will be able to bite and chew as well as you could before you lost your tooth. You also will provide the support to prevent other teeth from drifting in your mouth.
It’s About More Than Your Smile
We know that many patients come to us seeking teeth replacements because they want to feel comfortable smiling again. Dr. Perkins and the rest of our team want you to know that you can have a beautiful smile again!
And you can restore the function of your missing tooth as well.