When your teeth play a central role in so many moments of your regular day, like when you’re smiling and eating, it’s easy to take them for granted! But, it’s important to remember that you may not have all of your teeth forever, and also that missing teeth can cause a number of problems both inside and outside of your mouth. Missing teeth can significantly impact on your appearance, oral health and general health. Most of the time, the causes of missing teeth can be avoided, which is why it’s so important to take care of the ones you still have.
Below we’ve come up with some of the essential things you should know about how missing teeth can affect you, and what you can do about it before it’s too late.
Most Common Causes of Tooth Loss
Although tooth loss becomes more common with age, young people can also experience missing teeth.
The most common reasons for missing teeth are:
- Tooth decay: This refers to the cavities or holes in your teeth that form when bacteria in the plaque (sticky film) turn the sugars in food and drinks into an acid that wears down the enamel on the teeth. Tooth decay can happen at any age, and can be prevented by limiting the amount of sugary food and drinks consumed, maintaining a good oral hygiene routine, and ensuring you visit your dentist for your regular checkup and clean.
- Gum disease: Also known as periodontitis, this is a severe gum infection that damages the tissue that holds your teeth in place and can lead to bone deterioration and tooth loss. It causes inflammation, bleeding and discomfort, and is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, with other risk factors including pregnancy, diabetes, stress and genetics. This is the main cause of tooth loss for middle-aged and elderly patients.
- Dental trauma: Dental trauma is most common for younger patients, when accidents occur such as a blow to the face during high-contact sports, during a fight, or by falling off a skateboard, for example. Risks of losing teeth while playing sports can be minimised by wearing a custom mouthguard to protect your teeth and gums from trauma.
As you can see, most reasons for tooth loss are preventable with good oral hygiene and protecting your teeth from physical impact.
But, when the damage has already been done and you’re suffering from tooth loss, here are the reasons you should replace your missing teeth as soon as possible:
- Missing teeth can impact on your general health
- Tooth loss can deteriorate surrounding bone
- Missing teeth changes the appearance of your face
- Treatment becomes more difficult and expensive later
- There are several effective treatment options to replace missing teeth
1. Missing teeth can impact on your general health
Depending on which teeth are missing, it can affect your ability to chew your food properly. Not only would it be devastating to miss out on eating your favourite foods, but having difficulty chewing can also impact on your general wellbeing.
Not being able to chew certain foods can cause deficiencies in the variety of food groups and nutrients being consumed if certain solid foods are avoided, with this change in your diet having the ability to impact on your overall health.
The mental impact of missing teeth is also a reality, with many patients experiencing a loss in confidence and attempting to hide their smile as much as possible.
2. Missing teeth can deteriorate surrounding bone
When a tooth is lost, the remaining teeth begin to move towards the position of the previous tooth. This movement not only causes crooked or misaligned teeth, but it starts to deteriorate the bone in the jaw as it decreases in density and volume due to loss of stimulation.
This is a serious problem, as it results in a loss of structural support in the mouth, weakening the remaining teeth and creating a more difficult cleaning surface, which increases the risk of dental disease.
3. Missing teeth changes the appearance of your face
This deterioration of bone can also cause changes in the appearance of your face, causing it to look older. The more teeth you lose, the closer your nose and chin become, and your lips can turn downwards into a frown. The lower third of your face has essentially started collapsing or becoming shorter, making you look unhappy and aged.
4. Treatment becomes more difficult and expensive later
If the thought of replacing your missing teeth seems expensive at first and you want to prolong the need for treatment, it’s important to be aware that treatment may become essential eventually, and also more difficult and expensive as the situation worsens.
It’s harder to place dental implants, for example, when the amount or quality of bone has further deteriorated. This doesn’t automatically mean dental implants aren’t an option, but instead you may require a bone graft if there isn’t sufficient bone volume to support the dental implant being placed into the space. If there are multiple teeth that require replacing, you may also end up needing more implants than would have been necessary if you had the treatment sooner. This will all mean that treatment will take longer, be more complicated, and more costly.
5. There are several effective treatment options to replace missing teeth
The final reason you should aim to replace missing teeth as soon as you can, is that there are multiple effective options available which can suit a variety of individual needs and situations, making treatment more accessible than ever before.
The most common treatments for missing teeth are:
- Dental implants: Small titanium tooth roots surgically inserted into your jaw. The dental implant eventually fuses with your jawbone as it heals. This forms a durable tooth root alternative which will re-establish the connection lost by the missing tooth; stimulating the jawbone and the gum line to keep them alive and healthy. An abutment covered by a strong prosthetic tooth, such as a dental crown is then placed on top of the implant. For this reason, this is the most ideal treatment for missing teeth.
- Dental bridges: A row of artificial teeth, which can replace a single tooth or multiple missing teeth by being cemented onto the remaining teeth on either side.
- Dentures: An entire row of artificial teeth that are removable and attached to the upper or lower jaw.
As you can see, there are several reasons why you shouldn’t delay treatment when you experience tooth loss.
To find out which tooth replacement treatment is the best option for your needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our Gold Coast dental clinics to answer any questions you may have or to book a complimentary dental implants consultation on the Gold Coast with our highly experienced dentists. We also offer several interest-free payment plans to assist patients in receiving the treatments they need.