Tooth loss can be traumatic for people, particularly over time. One of the first effects tooth loss can have is social: people with missing teeth often feel embarrassed or judged and are less likely to smile during social interactions or interact with others. Studies have proven that people with good teeth are perceived as smarter and more successful. People with crooked, broken, or missing teeth feel less confident dating, applying or interviewing for jobs, and communicating with the public.
However, tooth loss also has significant physical complications as well. Teeth are not just for chewing – the constant pressure of teeth touching each other actually stimulates bone growth in the jaw, and when teeth are missing and cannot perform this function, the jaw bone erodes, collapsing the structure of the face and creating an aging effect. Further, the loss of one tooth can have an eventual cascading effect leading to the loss or more and, eventually, many teeth. This is why dentists advise quick intervention when a tooth is lost.
For the past sixty years one of the most common dental treatments for tooth loss has been to use a fixed partial denture (FPD), otherwise known as a “bridge,” to replace the tooth. When a dentist inserts a bridge. the teeth on either side of the missing tooth are capped and they support the “pontic” – the false tooth in the middle. This eliminates any tooth gaps and allows the patient to eat, talk, and smile normally. Unfortunately, with insufficient dental care, over time many bridges result in the decay of the attached teeth, which means the gap becomes larger and harder to fix.
This is why more recently dentists have been choosing to use single tooth implants instead of fixed partial dentures. Single tooth implants involve attaching a crown to the jawbone with a titanium implant. Titanium is used because it is so biocompatible with bone. This crown, unlike a bridge, will continue to aid bone growth because it acts as a normal tooth in every way. It also does not compromise the health of the teeth surrounding it in any way and so is more likely to maintain overall dental health for a longer period of time. For patients with more than one missing tooth, implants can also be used in conjunction with bridges to fill in larger gaps.
Ultimately, for long-term dental wellness the teeth, gums, and jawbone have to be maintained, which is why the use of implants is so exciting for dentists: they aid in the conservation of all three. If you have experienced tooth loss, do not despair. Contact the Dental Associates of West Michigan. We can help repair and restore your teeth and get you smiling again.