Do I have to replace that missing tooth? No says San Francisco Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev but you should. There are several reasons why one should replace a missing tooth.
- Esthetics: Esthetics are the most common reason to replace a missing tooth, especially if it’s in the front of your mouth. It can take as little as three seconds for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time (First Impressions). These few seconds can dramatically impact our confidence, love-life and even career. Most of us are born with a healthy smile. However, did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that “About 78 percent of Americans have had at least one cavity by age 17 “. With regular dental visits and home hygiene like brushing and flossing most people won’t lose a tooth to decay but it happens. Sometimes cavities are too severe to fix with a simple restoration (filling) or tooth decay has progressed to the point that the tooth is likely to be non-salvageable even with root canal therapy and crown placement. In these cases the tooth may need to be removed to prevent further damage to the surrounding tissues, bone and remaining teeth.
- Function: So if appearance is the most common reason to replace a tooth what is the next you ask? Function! Dr. Loev has a number of sayings but in this case “form must follow function” comes to my mind. What do I mean by this? I mean that we have teeth for a reason and every tooth serves a purpose. Yes we use our teeth for chewing and smiling but did you know that missing teeth can change the shape of your face and even impact your speech? If enough teeth are missing it may also affect your ability to chew and digest food properly.
- Mal- occlusion (funky bite): Our teeth work together like cogs in a machine doing their job. When we are missing teeth our jaw and remaining teeth must compensate. The remaining teeth often shift to fill in the gaps and in turn we shift the way we bite to make more contact. In some cases the shifting can lead to what we lovingly call the canine-effect. Teeth super erupt (the grow up beyond the rest of the teeth in the arch) This can happen on both the upper arch of your teeth or the bottom creating almost a fang that fills the space left by the missing tooth (teeth).
- Bone Resorption: Another reason that it is important to replace missing teeth is to maintain healthy bone tissue. The bone in our jaw is maintained through activities that put pressure on our PDL (The periodontal ligament is a group of specialized connective tissue fibers that connect a tooth to the alveolar bone that it sits in.) When a tooth is removed and not replaced the mechanical stimuli that prompt the PDL and bone to stay strong and keep producing ceases and starts to breakdown or resorb. Because our mouth is like a machine when part starts breaking down the rest of the machine is also adversely effected. The teeth and bone surrounding the impacted tooth is also weakened because is lacking the strength provided by that section of alveolar bone. Ones face can also be changed by this loss of bone. We have all seen old cartoon pictures of witches are old ladies with sunken cheeks and protruding chins. This is not a good look but it is a possible one if bone resorbs to the point where it no longer supports the structure of our skin and face.
“We are lucky to be living now,” says San Francisco Implant Dentist Dr. Ed Loev we have so many options and amazing dental technology. Missing teeth can now be replaced in quite a few ways. The newest and in most instances the best way to replace missing teeth today is through the placement of dental implants. A dental implant is an artificial tooth root that is surgically placed into the jawbone beneath the gum line. This “root (s)” allows a dentist to fabricate a prosthetic tooth or even bridge and attach it without impacting surrounding teeth. Once placed the new tooth (teeth) act like natural teeth. It won’t come loose or have to be removed like some dentures and it can be brushed and flossed just like a natural tooth. Teeth can still be replaced using traditional denture or traditional dental bridges (A traditional dental bridge is a fixed dental restoration used to replace one or several missing teeth by literally bridging the gap by attaching to the adjacent teeth.)
Cosmetic Dentist Dr. Edward L. Loev, DMD has been practicing dentistry in his Downtown San Francisco dental office for over 40 years. He has surrounded himself with an amazing team of individuals who are committed to patient care and service. Call them today at 415-392-2072 to set-up a complimentary cosmetic consultation or even just a new patient visit if you are in need/want of a new dentist.