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Missing Teeth

  • April 7, 2020
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Do Missing Teeth Need to Be Replaced?

Our teeth play a necessary and vital role in our lives. In addition to highlighting our individual smiles, our teeth allow us to talk with others and eat the food that nourishes our entire body. 

While many people recognize that teeth as a whole are crucial for digestion, it’s harder to see the importance of a single tooth. However, the structure of our teeth is meant to fit together like a puzzle. When one tooth is missing, it can cause teeth to shift and other serious issues.

What Happens If You Don’t Replace Missing Teeth?

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If you are suffering from missing teeth problems, it’s important to see a dentist about getting a replacement. As mentioned above, missing teeth can affect your bite, weaken your jaw bone, and ultimately alter your appearance.

Your teeth and bones are interconnected. When you lose a tooth, the jaw bone shrinks, causing your gums to pull back. Because this bone loss weakens the foundation, adjacent teeth may also be affected and eventually fall out. 

Teeth on the opposite side of the jaw will also gradually shift into the gap left behind from the missing tooth. It’s important to address a missing tooth early on because it can lead to more missing teeth, which will be harder to replace.

People are always shocked to learn that missing teeth can affect their appearance, even when they’re not visible. Because your jaw bone shrinks from missing teeth, your cheeks begin to sag. This makes your face look older and increases the appearance of wrinkles. 

Missing teeth can also affect your health. The pain of a missing tooth can be extremely painful due to it affecting the positioning of the rest of your teeth. This pain can cause headaches and migraines.

Another way missing teeth can affect your health is by making it difficult to eat certain foods. If you are avoiding specific foods that increase your oral pain, you may be depriving your body of the nutrients it needs. This can lead to various health issues.

What Causes Missing Teeth?

Unless  you have a genetic condition like hypodontia, which causes people to have permanent teeth missing, most missing teeth are caused by poor oral health or knocked out in accidents.

The two most common oral health issues that lead to tooth loss are untreated gum disease or that the tooth has died.

  • Gum disease: Bacteria in your mouth can cause gums to inflame and their ligaments to disappear. This causes gums to recede and the bone surrounding your teeth to reduce. Over time, gum disease, commonly known as periodontal disease, will loosen your teeth, increasing the risk of tooth loss. 
  • Dead tooth: When tooth decay spreads to the pulp of a tooth, the nerves will no longer send blood to the tooth. As a result, the tooth dies. This often starts from a neglected cavity, which could’ve been easily treated.

Are Missing Teeth Genetic?

Anodontia is a genetic condition that causes missing permanent teeth. Cases of anodontia are rare, more commonly a person will have partial anodontia, meaning only some of their teeth will be missing. If a person has one to six missing teeth, the more accurate term for their condition is hypodontia. When a person has more than six permanent teeth missing but not all, it is called oligodontia.

When a baby doesn’t develop their teeth by 13 months old, a dentist will take an x-ray to see whether the teeth are still in the gums but late to break through or if they’re completely absent. If the x-rays show no teeth, then the child most likely has anodontia.

While researchers have established that anodontia is hereditary, they are unsure which specific genes are involved. Unfortunately, there is no cure for anodontia. However, artificial teeth can be added to hide the appearance of missing teeth and improve one’s eating and speaking.

When a baby doesn’t develop their teeth by 13 months old, a dentist will take an x-ray to see whether the teeth are still in the gums but late to break through or if they’re completely absent. If the x-rays show no teeth, then the child most likely has anodontia.

What Can I Do to Replace Missing Teeth?

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In addition to making it difficult to chew, causing pain, and potentially affecting your ability to enunciate certain words, missing teeth can also influence your smile. That’s why many people with missing teeth look into replacement options. This includes the following:
  • Implants: If you are looking to replace a single tooth, implants look like natural teeth. This process requires a titanium screw to be placed into your jaw, then later replaced with a titanium abutment with a porcelain crown attached. However, this surgical procedure is not an option for everyone. Dentists will check to see if the patient is healthy and has an adequate bone structure to support the implant.
  • Fixed bridges: When replacing several teeth in the same area, fixed bridges are a great replacement option. Artificial teeth attached to a metal frame are cemented to existing teeth on both sides of your gap.
  • Removable partial dentures: This last popular tooth replacement option involves artificial teeth attached to a moveable base that matches your gums. While easy to take out, partial dentures should be worn 24 hours a day
Talk to your dentist today to find out what options are best for you. They will create a treatment plan based on your overall health, the conditions of your mouth, and your financial ability. And if you need help connecting with a dentist who can help, use our unique directory above to find a dentist near you.
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