Kalamazoo dentist, Dr. Carrie Lintner is often asked about what to do for tooth loss or missing permanent teeth. Missing teeth may seem to be only an issue of aesthetics. And if it is a tooth that isn’t seen when smiling, does it really matter? The answer is yes, it does matter. There are many hidden consequences to missing permanent teeth that can impact your health. The good news in all of this is that there are measures one can take to address the issue.
What Causes Tooth Loss?
Let’s first address the causes of why someone may be missing a tooth or multiple teeth. The most common cause of tooth loss is periodontal (gum) disease. Periodontal disease goes through three stages; gingivitis, periodontitis and lastly advanced periodontitis. In the advanced stage both bone and supporting tissue begin to deteriorate causing teeth to become loose and often resulting in extraction. Another major cause of tooth loss is through tooth decay. If a cavity is not addressed with your dentist and continues to eat away at the enamel of your tooth it will need to be extracted. Often the tooth will begin to loosen on its own.
In both cases tooth loss can be prevented. With good nutrition and proper oral care; brushing, flossing, anti-bacterial mouth rinses and regular dental exams periodontal disease and tooth decay shouldn’t stand a chance. However, there are cases that are out of one’s control. For example, congenitally missing teeth (CMT) or hypodontia is a condition where the teeth never erupt in certain areas. The reason behind this is still unclear but many doctors believe it is due to genetics and environmental factors.
Whether it is due to improper care, genetics or an accident causing tooth loss, it still needs to be addressed. Patients with missing teeth can suffer from:
- Bone loss – this can cause improper chewing and pre-mature aging due to facial collapse
- Speech impediments
- Periodontal damage
- Tooth decay
- Malocclusion (misalignment of upper and lower teeth)
When teeth begin to move into open spaces a whole host of problems can begin and not to mention start to become very costly.
Options for Missing Teeth
There are three main options your dentist in Kalamazoo, MI will go over. Depending on each individual case severity you and your dentist will cover which options are possible and then select the best course of treatment.
Dental Bridges –come in both fixed and removable options. The “bridge” is essentially the teeth filling in the open space(s) and connecting to your adjacent teeth.
Dental Implants – implants are secured into your jaw bone to act as your tooth root. The bone will fuse to the implant and a crown (looks like your natural tooth) will be fixed to the implant. This will help prevent any future bone loss.
Dentures – both full and partial dentures are available. If all teeth are missing this is usually the route the dentist will take.
Lindenwoods Dental is going to make sure your health, function of teeth and aesthetics are all in check when choosing which option is best. And while we may be down playing aesthetics as not being the “major” issue here, let’s not forget the role our teeth can play with our self-esteem. Feeling insecure about our teeth can affect our work, communication with others and overall quality of life. Do you have missing teeth and have been wondering what to do? Make an appointment with our team so we can begin to address your concerns and help you lead a healthy (smiling) life.