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Why You Should Replace Your Missing Tooth
If someone has a missing tooth due to injury, decay or other oral condition, it is important to replace it. Not only is having a gap in the teeth embarrassing, but there are long-term dental consequences if the missing one is not replaced. The good news is there are numerous options for replacement procedures.
Consequences of a missing tooth
Teeth do more than just provide a good smile and chewing ability. The teeth support the muscles and bones of the face. In fact, the jaw requires the stimulation of teeth to maintain its structure and strength. With a missing tooth, bone structure begins to degenerate and the muscle tissue shrinks. This results in a sunken facial appearance.
A missing tooth also affects the surrounding teeth. Without its support, the other teeth begin to shift, over time altering overall alignment and appearance. When alignment is off, this begins to affect biting function. This can lead to issues with TMJ and/or contribute to teeth clenching and grinding.
A missing tooth increases the chances of dental health decline as well. The extra space tends to attract and gather bacteria. Food can also get caught between teeth, and it is harder to clean with regular oral hygiene practices. This can lead to cavities and gum disease.
Procedures to replace a missing tooth
Depending on varying factors, there are a few options to replace a missing tooth.
With an implant, the dentist surgically inserts a titanium post into the jawbone and then attaches a replacement tooth on top. An implant provides stability, as it supports bone structure. The replacement looks like the surrounding natural teeth, and it functions like a real tooth. An implant does not affect the other teeth like some other procedures, and it is considered a permanent solution.
Another replacement option is a fixed bridge. A dental crown is placed on each of the teeth adjacent to the missing tooth, and these support a false tooth that covers the missing tooth’s gap. A bridge looks and feels like natural teeth, but it does not provide the same structure and stability as an implant. The procedure is less expensive than an implant, but it does involve changing the surrounding teeth.
A third replacement option is a partial denture. The artificial tooth is attached to a natural-looking base that is placed in the gap. The base is held and stabilized by the surrounding teeth or by clasps. Partial dentures are the most affordable option, and they are easier to repair or replace. They may be more uncomfortable than other options, however, and they do not support or stimulate the jawbone.
Having a missing tooth can have long-lasting consequences, so it is important to replace it. A dentist can help determine the right replacement method based on jaw structure, aesthetic goals, budget and other considerations. Having a lost tooth replaced not only improves function, but it also can increase self-confidence.
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