You’ve lost a tooth. Whether it was due to damage or decay, it may not seem like a big deal, particularly if it’s deep in your mouth and not featured in your smile. But you may not be aware that your mouth is a complex system of parts that interact and influence each other. Each time there’s a change to one part of the system, all the others are affected as well.
Since your mouth is the primary entry point to your body, problems there can spread everywhere.
Though it may seem as though you’re coping fine after losing your tooth, time takes its own toll, and conditions start to change. As with most health-related issues, prevention is easier than recovery, so we at Fabulous Smiles of Atlantic present a few reasons why it’s better to seek treatment now than to wait for care down the road.
You may not think about how your teeth and jaw work as a system. They seem rigid, fixed in their arrangement and changing little over the years. But when you lose a tooth, it’s not just about a space between teeth. Your jawbone loses a valuable interaction that keeps it healthy.
Normal pressures on teeth, primarily from eating, transfer to the jawbone naturally, and though you don’t sense it, these pressures stimulate bone renewal. Over time, bone in the area around missing teeth can start to deteriorate without this stimulation. As you lose jawbone mass, your appearance can change as your face begins to collapse into tooth gaps.
Teeth adjacent to a missing tooth lose valuable support, even before the jawbone starts to erode. Those daily pressures from eating and speaking may start a slow-motion toppling of teeth, now that there’s no partner to support them. Teeth can move with slow pressure over time.
This is the principle upon which orthodontics are based, but unlike braces and other alignment systems, teeth movement after tooth loss can be random. Your bite can change, and eating or speaking can become uncomfortable.
New gaps and spaces emerge with these alignment changes, creating places for food debris to collect. Pockets left by lost teeth can also become collection points for bacteria, the cause of gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. Even if your dental care regimen has been successful in the past, it may no longer be adequate.
Treating tooth loss
Traditionally, dentists replaced lost teeth with dental bridges, and that remains a treatment option today. Attached to adjacent teeth in either permanent or removable systems, bridges fill the gaps and prevent other teeth from moving into the empty space. Removable bridges have their own care requirements, but your bite remains intact.
Bridges, though, can’t restore the root-jaw interaction, and for that reason, dental implants are now the standard of care to replace missing teeth. Implants are the next best thing to your natural teeth.
At Fabulous Smiles of Atlanta, Danielle Greene, DDS, is an implant specialist. She and our team can advise you on your options replace one or more missing teeth. You can request an appointment from our website or call the office directly. Protect your smile against future decay. Contact us today.