Missing teeth are usually caused by accident, disease, or genetics. There are two main types of tooth loss: simple and compound. Simple tooth loss occurs when any part of the tooth has been lost or broken off and can be restored with a crown. It is the most common type of tooth loss.
Compound tooth loss occurs when part or all of the tooth has been lost, but the root is still in place.
Symptoms of Tooth Loss
Tooth loss can have a significant impact on your daily life. The most common symptoms of tooth loss are:
- Shifting teeth
- Gum recession
- Bone deterioration
- Widening jawline
Shifting teeth are common because of the lost support of the missing tooth. The teeth surrounding the missing one will move towards the vacant space, often resulting in a smaller smile. Shifting teeth can make it difficult to chew or speak properly.
Gum recession occurs when a bone is lost around the tooth that has been lost, making room for more of your natural gum to show. This is another side effect of tooth loss that gives the patient age.
Bone deterioration occurs when the jawbone begins to deteriorate slowly. When teeth are lost, support from the bone and surrounding teeth will be gone causing bone atrophy. The remaining jawbone can become less dense, making it easier for your face muscles to move your lower face and jaw. This can severely impact the way you speak and smile.
Alignment is also a common problem that occurs with tooth loss. Your lower teeth will begin to shift position to fill the vacant space left by the missing tooth. Without proper support, your jawline may become more narrow, which can decrease your airway and the way you chew.
Causes of Tooth Loss
There are many reasons for losing teeth, but the most common are:
- Dental disease
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Improper tooth wear
Treatment of Tooth Loss
Treating tooth loss can only happen once you visit your dentist. The first step is to check for existing dental problems such as loose teeth, gum disease, wear and tear on your existing teeth, or abscesses.
A dental professional can take a complete medical history and conduct a thorough examination to determine the cause of tooth loss. They will also need an X-ray and CT scan to ensure that your remaining teeth and jawline can handle an implant. If everything is in place, the dentist will create a replacement plan for you based on what you want.
Tooth loss can be replaced with either a fixed or removable replacement. A fixed replacement is most commonly used in dental implants, although it also includes bridges and partial dentures. The tooth is attached to the surrounding teeth for support with a fixed replacement. This creates an anchor to hold it in place along with extra stability. Although this replacement has a very high success rate, it has a high financial cost over regular dental checkups and cleanings.
A removable replacement is often used as a temporary solution until a fixed replacement can be made. It is, however, not as sturdy, so it must be taken in regularly for adjustments. The removable replacement is commonly acrylic and filled with a plastic or resin material.
Removable dental appliances can temporarily replace missing teeth until you are ready for a more permanent option, usually an implant or bridge. They can also be used to hold your teeth in place while orthodontic therapy corrects misaligned teeth. This type of appliance typically has clasps that attach them to your remaining teeth for stability. They can also be attached to your gum for added support.
Removable dental appliances are not as sturdy or long-lasting, but they are less expensive and easier to get used to than fixed replacements. If you find yourself losing one too many teeth, speaking with your dentist about replacement options may lead you in the right direction.
Prevention of Tooth Loss
The best way to avoid tooth loss is by keeping up with regular dental checkups and cleaning appointments. This will allow you to catch any potential problems early on. A dentist will also identify risk factors such as tobacco and alcohol use, which can lead to infection and gum disease.
You can also take care of your mouth by brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily. Remember to brush and floss around dental appliances and implants. It would help if you brushed your teeth at the gum line first before moving on to more sensitive areas like the inside and outside of your cheeks and tongue. After you’re done, rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash to kill any extra germs.
Tooth loss can take a toll on your self-confidence and overall happiness. Make sure to visit your dentist as soon as you notice a tooth missing. With the proper treatment, you can get back to enjoying a healthy smile.