The average adult mouth is designed to house an amazing 32 teeth in total. It makes sense that losing essential teeth will eventually alter the appearance and function of the jaw and face.
When you lose teeth, you not only lose the ability to chew, but the resulting space puts stress on the entire mouth and jaw. To keep your mouth operating efficiently it is best to keep as many teeth as you can. Certain foods can make eating difficult. It is estimated that for each missing tooth, you lose approximately 10% of your remaining ability to chew food.
Reasons for losing teeth
Wisdom teeth are commonly removed when we are young adults. Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of molars that come in during our late teens or early twenties. These teeth can be left in the mouth when they come in healthy and properly aligned. When they start causing issues, such as infection or pressure on the jaw, they should be removed. When these teeth become impacted or partially erupted, the wisdom teeth can allow bacteria to enter around the tooth and cause an infection, which results in pain, swelling, jaw stiffness, and general illness.
Other reasons to have teeth removed are damaged teeth due to decay or a mouth injury. There are also cosmetic reasons to remove teeth for braces because the needed extra space helps teeth to gradually move and be straightened allowing for a better smile.
Losing essential teeth can affect the look and function of your smile. Even losing one tooth can alter the function of your bite and can cause the following issues:
- Bone loss: When you have a tooth removed, the bone that supports the teeth tends to shrink over time. This is a process called resorption. This is a natural consequence that the alveolar bone (which is designed to support the teeth) begins to lose both height and width.
- Misalignment: When you lose more than one or two teeth, this can lead to drifting of neighbouring teeth. This movement shifts the adjacent teeth to eventually lean over into the vacant space where the teeth have been lost. Similarly, loss of a tooth or teeth can lead to shifting of opposing teeth as they drift down into the open space which is called a super-erupt. Our teeth have a constant tendency to move both towards the front of our mouths and towards the opposing jaw, unless they are stopped by something in their way – usually the adjacent or opposing teeth. Loss of teeth creates discrepancies in the height and contours of the gum tissue that predispose adjacent teeth. This can cause periodontal disease progression to dental decay from an accumulation of food and plaque. Drifting teeth can also adversely affect your bite resulting in a change in your facial structure around your mouth which can affect your smile.
- Tooth decay and gum disease: When you have teeth removed, bacteria can find many more places to develop. These hard to reach areas increases your risk for tooth decay and periodontal disease. Dental implants can restore the original function of your smile combined with proper oral hygiene is one of the best ways to avoid more serious oral health issues.
Tooth replacement options
A fixed bridge
- A fixed bridge: Your teeth can be replaced with a fixed bridge if there are healthy and strong enough teeth to support the artificial teeth. In order to fabricate a bridge, the adjacent teeth are prepared by reducing their size to remove all the enamel, making room for the prosthetic tooth restoration. Prosthetic teeth can be suspended between adjacent teeth to provide a functional and cosmetic replacement for the missing tooth.
- Dentures: Removable partial or full dentures can replace a single missing tooth, several teeth, or all of the teeth in your upper and/or lower jaw. Dentures rely on support by the other teeth in that jaw for partial dentures and from mechanical support by the remaining ridge of gum and underlying bone. Maxillary full dentures on the upper jaw also may be helped by suction between the denture and the underlying gum of the roof of the mouth. Removable dentures take time to adjust to and can interfere with speech. Over time, this awkward feeling will pass as the mouth accommodates these new teeth.
If you have missing teeth and are looking to restore your smile with beautiful results, we can help. At Pine Street Dental, we can discuss affordable solutions to replace your missing teeth. Give our Thorold Dental Office a call today!