Missing teeth are more than just a blow to your appearance and self-confidence. The physiological consequences of missing your teeth are painful, embarrassing, and dangerous. The effects of missing teeth are not easily reversed, and the longer you wait to fully address your problem, the worse your situation will become.
Tooth loss is more common than you might think, and contrary to popular opinion teeth aren’t usually lost due to unfortunate accidents or injury. Most teeth that are lost in the US are caused by oral disease, most frequently gum disease. In our Glen Ellyn, IL dental practice we offer a wide range of dental implant options to help you overcome the life-changing impact of missing your teeth. Don’t be ashamed any longer because of gaps in your teeth. Do something about it by contacting Smile Glen Ellyn!
What Happens If I Don’t Take Action and Seek Treatment for Missing Teeth?
Sometimes people have a tendency to disregard the seriousness of tooth loss. In popular culture, tooth loss is often regarded as a joke, as if missing teeth only happen in cartoons. The reality is tooth loss is traumatic and incredibly common. The ADA estimates that on average, an adult in the United States has lost, or is about to lose, three teeth.
If you don’t address the problem quickly, missing teeth will cause a number of issues and cause your oral health to nose-dive very quickly.
Consequences of Tooth Loss
The consequences of tooth loss go beyond your appearance and affect nearly every aspect of your life. A tooth that is lost can cause a “domino effect” that is deleterious to your oral health and your overall wellbeing.
- Impairs your ability to speak and chew
- Causes your face to collapse into a drooping “toothless” shape and appearance
- Reduces bone density in the jaw (especially in the immediate area where a tooth has been lost)
- Causes “free-range” teeth: lost teeth leave gaps, and this creates space for your remaining teeth to move out of position, ultimately contributing to misalignment of your jaw, which makes your remaining teeth vulnerable to fracturing and chipping. These injuries can lead to tooth infection; this can lead to further tooth loss.
Why Dental Implants? Don’t Dentures and Bridges Work Just as Well?
Conventional solutions for tooth loss (dentures and bridges, at least the types that most are familiar with) are indeed effective, and many people consider them a good option because these solutions, when compared with dental implants (of any kind) have a lower upfront cost. While implants cost more, they also have a higher value: dental implants will last a lifetime, and they more closely replicate the appearance and functionality of your natural teeth to a much greater degree than traditional dentures and bridges.
Comparing Dental Bridges and Dental Implants
A dental bridge is essentially a pair of crowns that are placed on the teeth on both sides of a gap (these teeth are called the abutment teeth). The two crowns support one or more artificial teeth that fit in the gap, creating the appearance of natural teeth; dental bridges also provide the functionality of natural teeth. Dental bridges have one advantage over dental implants in that a dental bridge does not require surgery (dental bridges can be placed completely within two appointments).
However, dental bridges have certain drawbacks, as well. Dental bridges do not last as long as dental implants. Estimates regarding the longevity of dental bridges vary, depending on the material used and the type of bridge. Additional factors such as the expertise and experience of the dentist placing the bridge also come into play, but a dental bridge may last anywhere from as long as 15 years to as short as 5 years. In any case, dental bridges must eventually be replaced completely. This means that at some point, you pay for an entirely new appliance and undergo the entire placement procedure multiple times throughout your life. Dental implants are placed once, and will last for as long as they are needed (provided they receive the appropriate maintenance).
Dental bridges may also threaten your oral health. It is relatively common for abutment teeth to become infected as a result of the dental bridge placement. In many cases, the dental bridge may not fit exactly into the gap. To make it fit properly, the abutment teeth are filed down considerably. This removes your enamel (which does not grow back), and without that protection, infection becomes a strong possibility.
A dental bridge is called a dental restoration (a category that includes dental crowns, as well as veneers): the appliance is fixed in the position more or less permanently and cannot be removed without a dentist to complete the procedure.
Comparing Dentures and Dental Implants
Dentures are a type of prosthesis; they can be removed easily by the person who wears them (for necessary cleaning). Dentures, unlike dental bridges and dental implants, only approximate the appearance of natural teeth. Dentures are not as reliable in terms of functionality; for example, dentures only afford 10% to 20% of your actual bite strength, which places limits on your diet and lifestyle.
Dentures also have many shortcomings, most of them resulting from poor fit. Even if your dentures fit perfectly when you first get them, eventually they lose their fit. They can become damaged due to wear (or injury), but they often lose their fit because the mouth around the dentures undergoes changes. For example, weight loss can cause changes in your oral tissues that make your dentures fit incorrectly!
This is why dentures are notorious for their tendency to slip and slide in your mouth. This can lead to embarrassment when they fall out; they also make an audible clicking sound when you speak or open your mouth too wide.
Dentures, like dental bridges, also raise your risk of dental infection. Dentures stay in place with the use of adhesives, but they are mostly supported by how they interact with your oral tissues and remaining teeth. Dentures that are new and fit correctly will stay in place, but as time goes by, the rubbing and friction caused by their continuous movement will irritate your gums and cause mouth sores. These become portals for infection, especially if you aren’t extremely careful about keeping your dentures clean (which is more difficult than it might seem).
Dental implants do not move when they are placed; you don’t need to remove them to clean them. In fact, you can take care of your dental implants in the same way as your natural teeth!
Interested in Learning More About Dental Implants?
Stay tuned for the next entry in this blog series on dental implants; we’ll discuss how dental implants work and what you should expect in terms of performance.
Of course, you could always just make an appointment with your dentist for a consultation!
Dial 630-858-8800, or click here to book your appointment online.