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Tooth loss, dental bridges and dental implants

The Domino Effect of Tooth Loss

It’s not just hockey players who suffer from a high rate of tooth loss! More adults lose one or more of their functioning teeth in their lifetimes than you’d think.  In fact, the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth. Among adults aged 20 to 64, that amounts to 52% of the population.  The question as to why this is should be fairly obvious. Unfortunately, many people don’t take care of their teeth as best they could. Poor oral hygiene, high acid food diets, smoking – all are common culprits. Of course, a knocked out tooth from playing sports or an accident or failing to get a filling on a cracked or decaying tooth add to these reasons.

All too often, patients seek the path of least pain in dealing with dental problems as many simply ask for extraction of a problematic tooth rather doing something to fix it. Dentists know, this may be the easy fix, but the long term problems from missing a tooth are fairly significant.

The List of Problems

Teeth are really a marvel of evolution.  We have them for a reason. (yeah, an obvious statement). Losing just one can create a host of problems. First, just losing one tooth, anywhere in your smile, can lead to a gradual yet dramatic shifting of all the other teeth in your mouth. Gaps will likely occur, your smile will change, and alignment with uppers and lowers become skewed. Gaps catch food and make dental hygiene more difficult.  

Your bite pattern will shift, making chewing food more difficult.  The loss of a tooth will force you to begin to favor the side of your bite that has a complete set of teeth as well to avoid a painful chard of food hitting the exposed gum.  Grinding of teeth may occur with this bite pattern shift as people naturally tend to want solid contact between upper and lower teeth.

Further, the tooth that sits opposite of the missing one begins looking for its lost partner.  It may begin to separate from the socket as it searches for that lost contact. That partner tooth begins to lose its sturdiness and can eventually become week enough that it too will fall out.

Even worse, the bone that the missing tooth had been connected will also begin to recede and degrade causing even more problems for the rest of the teeth and jaw.  Waiting too long before taking action could leave a person without a point of contact in that bone for an implant.

And finally, healing after tooth extraction can require more time and care than other procedures.  If you have a local dentist question, need to visit a local dentist - then can post your local dental request by using this link to post local dentists questions at https://dentalchat.com/patient-profile/post

With the multitude of problems the loss of one tooth can create, it would be assumed there’d be far less people with missing teeth.  But the problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is that most people simply aren’t aware of these problems. Nor are they aware of the solutions.

Dental Solutions Chat / Dental Treatment Options Chatting:

Regardless of how long a tooth has been missing, action should be taken.  The quick fix of tooth extraction is clearly outweighed by the long term consequences. Several options exist including implants, bridges, and dentures, though some are wholly dependent on the situation a patient and the dental provider face.

Dental Implants Blog

Dental implants are the closest fix a person can get to healthy teeth (besides natural teeth). Dental implants are essentially artificial teeth complete with an artificial root.  It sounds painful, but advances in dental procedures have helped minimize the pain of an implant procedure.

The implant, which looks like a screw, is secured into the bone.  A connector, called an abutment, is then secured to the implant. The crown (or the replacement tooth) is then secured to the connector.  Some dental implant procedures can take as little as 30 minutes though more difficult situations could take up to 3-4 hours. But the great thing about dental implants is that they will begin to bond with the natural bone, strengthening it and providing a healthy companion for its opposing partner. In fact, dental implants are the only dental restoration option that preserves natural bone.

Dental implants have been around for a long time – since the 1950’s – and has been virtually perfected during that time.  Some 3 million people in the U.S. have implants and according to the American Academy of Implant Dentistry, that number is rapidly growing – by almost 500,000 a year.

Online Dental Bridges Blog

Bridges are a bit more complicated as they literally bridge the gap created by a missing tooth, or teeth.  Two or more crowns on existing teeth opposite another between the gap are placed with a “false tooth” in the middle.  Thus, dental bridges are supported by natural teeth but do not involve any work on the jaw bone. There are actually four different bridge options a dentist can use, depending on the situation.

Traditional Dental Bridges are the most popular and consist of one or more fake teeth, called pontics that are held in place by crowns.  A crown, by the way, is just a fake tooth placed like a cap on top of natural tooth (Drilling required). A traditional bridge is best for when you have natural teeth on both sides of your toothless gap.

Cantilever Bridges are similar to traditional bridges, but the fake tooth is supported by a connection on just one side rather than both sides of the missing tooth.  This only requires one crown to be placed on a healthy tooth..

A Maryland Bridge is one where a fake tooth is held in place by a metal or porcelain frame rather than being secured to a crown. This dental fix thus eliminates the need to crown any teeth. These types of bridges aren’t as strong as a traditional bridge, but does save existing teeth from being drilled down for a crown.

An Implant Supported Bridge is just what it sounds like are a good option when the bone is healthy and there are more than one missing teeth.  Instead of crowns acting as the support system for the fake teeth, the implants hold the bridge in place.

Dentures Blog / Partial Denture Flipper Chat:

A partial denture is one that sits on a metal framework that is attached to natural teeth as a removable bridge.  Full dentures are just what they sound like. They serve as a full set of replacement teeth. Dentures are the obvious choice when a patient is missing several teeth.  When a partial denture is made for a single missing tooth, it is sometimes called a flipper.  Dentures are made to be removed, usually at night when the person is sleeping.

Regardless of the chosen fix, leaving a gap where a healthy tooth once was is not a good idea. Consider the consequences and the benefits of visiting a dental provider to fix the problem. A lifelong healthy smile has to be supported by a full set of teeth!

In summary, there are many dental restoration options for patients that are missing one or more teeth. Local denture bloggingLocal tooth loss blog, dental bridges chat and local dental implants blogging online was done in this local dentist article.  We discussed the importance of saving your teeth and the domino effect that happens when one loses a necessary tooth.  If a tooth is extracted, then some type of replacement will be needed.  This can be a partial denture (flipper), dental implant or getting a dental bridge.