Why should you care if you lost a tooth?
I hope the beginning of summer is treating you well. With all the graduation parties and weddings in full effect, it is such a pleasant change to be able to attend these celebrations in person and leave pandemic times behind us. We are hopeful that the world will heal and move towards a brighter, healthier future.
As far as our oral health, I have been noticing more people conscious about their missing teeth. Whether it’s from cracking a tooth when chewing on a popcorn kernel while watching Top Gun Maverick, or knocking out a tooth while playing sports, it is imperative to replace missing teeth in order to maintain function and aesthetics. Losing a tooth can be devastating, especially if it’s in the front or part of your smile. When it’s towards the back, people have fewer tendencies to do something about it, without realizing how it will significantly affect the rest of your mouth.
Consequences of a missing tooth
Missing a tooth has multiple negative consequences. First of all, losing a posterior (back) tooth leads to less function, meaning not being able to chew foods on that side with the same efficiency as before. As foods are not broken down enough, this affects your digestion and absorption of nutrients, which negatively affects your overall health. Next, you may automatically compensate by chewing foods more frequently with the other side of your teeth, which can overload those teeth and cause early dysfunction from wear and tear. These are just some of the big picture consequences. Over the years, teeth adjacent to the missing tooth, start to tilt into the space that was left behind. The opposing tooth either above or below will start to drift into the empty space as well. As the space gets smaller, the chance of replacing that tooth successfully decreases. The way you bite will also change, as teeth are moving towards the space to fill the void. You may then need orthodontic treatment in order to move teeth back into their proper positions before replacing the tooth.
Options to replace missing teeth
Currently, dentistry provides three options to replace a missing tooth: an implant, bridge or partial denture. Choosing one of these options is imperative at the time of tooth loss. Each one has different indications and implications. Generally, the implant has the longest lasting successful outcome in healthy patients. The bridge option is the second best plan. In the next newsletter, I will go over each treatment option and provide more information on when each option is indicated when replacing teeth.
For now, please take care to avoid chewing on hard food items like bones, ice and certain hard nuts, like corn nuts, that can cause your teeth to crack. Don’t forget to wear your nightguards to protect your teeth from unconscious grinding and clenching while you’re sleeping. Also, wear a mouthguard if you will be playing rough sports or lifting weights. I hope you make time to take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
Be safe and be well,
Dr. Argina Kudaverdian