The American College of Prosthodontists tells us that of the over 400 million Americans, 178 million have lost one tooth, and around 40 million have lost all of them. Aging is one of the causes of missing teeth. Diseases like diabetes cause bone loss which is a harbinger of lost teeth. Sporting injuries, tooth decay, and gum diseases are also causes of lost teeth.
Problems Missing Teeth Can Cause
If you had a missing limb, then maneuvering your way through life would teach you to make good use of other limbs. Dealing with missing teeth is much the same:
Difficulty Eating And Chewing
Some of our teeth rip meat off a bone while others chew the meat. Our teeth crunch into carrots and chips. When a tooth is missing, we use the other side of the mouth to rip and chew. Crunchy things scratch the gum around the missing tooth.
When more than one tooth is missing, we tend to eat softer foods. This leads to malnutrition. Malnutrition causes our other teeth to fail, the bone to lose its grip on the teeth, and the gums to become diseased.
The bone beneath our teeth is there to support the teeth and vice versa. When a tooth is missing, the bone beneath loses tissue which causes atrophy of the bone. The stimulation of the teeth to the bone stops. The facial structures cave in, making us look older.
Shift In Teeth
Each tooth supports the teeth on either side of it. A missing tooth causes the other teeth to move around to support the other teeth. This misalignment causes a problem with the bite. Flossing becomes difficult. Cavities and gum diseases happen when we can’t properly clean the teeth.
You might not recognize the fact that the teeth support the facial structure. Missing teeth cause the mouth to shrink, the cheeks to cave in, sagging jowls, not to mention a somewhat shrunken smile. Those with missing teeth begin to look older than they really are.
When the tongue comes up against the teeth, the sounds they make form letters in our speech. The “th,” “s,” and “v” sounds are just a few. Now, take away the teeth. The sounds, especially the “s” sound slurred or otherwise changed. People have to listen harder to understand what you’re saying.
This is even more difficult when talking on a phone. Those standing close to you will work out what you’re saying, but people on a phone will ask you to repeat yourself. This leads to frustration and ultimately a lack of self-esteem.
We have long lived in a youth-oriented culture. We are told we must be a size two, blonde, and blue-eyed to be loved. Intelligence, softer emotions, as well as a fun-loving personality, go along with the looks. If we aren’t built that way, we are encouraged to use contacts, hair dye, and become a size two to be loved.
Now take that culture and add a loss of teeth to it. The speech impediment and the caved-in facial structure make conforming to the “ideal” a lot more difficult. Of course, your self-esteem will take a hit. Of course, you’ll do anything, no matter the cost, to repair the damage done. Then you can face the world in all your glory, size two or no.
How To Replace A Missing Tooth
Replacing missing teeth is a simple matter of going over your options with your dentist:
Dental implants involve your dentist making a hole in the bone. A titanium screw is then implanted into the bone. After a few months, the bone and screw fuse together. Titanium screws are close to natural and cause no harm to the body.
When the screw and bone are fused, the dentist will attach an abutment to the screw to hold the crown on the screw. Then the crown is attached. Now you have teeth that look great and act like normal teeth.
A dental bridge consists of wires hooking onto existing teeth. It will have crowns to replace the missing tooth or teeth. It fits onto your upper or lower gum around existing teeth. The bridge will support existing teeth and help strengthen the bone.
Your dentist will make a mold of your gums along with any existing teeth. The mold will be sent to a lab for making dentures. You’ll have the first draft, so to speak, fitted to your mouth and adjusted as you and your dentist deem fit. The mold will then be sent back to the lab to be made into real dentures. You will be fitted once again and coached on how to clean them, speak and chew with them. Your teeth will look like new.