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Missing Teeth – Is Replacement Necessary?

Tooth loss is a common issue among adults. In fact, it has been estimated that 69 percent of Americans age 35 to 44 and a total of 120 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth.

When adults have missing teeth, most replace these teeth through implants, bridges, dentures, or a combination of these options. However, what if the missing tooth is not an aesthetic or functional issue? Is there still a reason to replace that missing tooth?

The answer to that question is an emphatic yes. There are number of potential issues that can arise over time if you don’t replace missing teeth.

Here are the most common concerns with missing teeth over time:

Tooth or Bite Misalignment 

Known as malocclusion, the misalignment of your teeth or your bite is a significant problem that can arise when a missing tooth is not replaced. This misalignment is most often experienced either in the form of an overbite or an underbite, or the shifting of the teeth surrounding the gap. Due to the gap, these surrounding teeth begin to move together in an effort to fill the gap. The end result is crooked teeth. The resulting crooked teeth can become a source of bite challenges that require correction through orthodontics. In addition, due to the fact that each tooth is supported by those around it, missing teeth has the potential to weaken the overall structure of the mouth, leading to additional tooth loss or injury that can worsen with time.

Overgrowth of Opposite Teeth

When a tooth is missing for a long period of time, the teeth that sit opposite to the missing tooth begin to try to compensate for the gap and begin to super erupt, or overgrow. Because there is nothing there to stop it, the tooth will erupt past its naturally intended state, creating problems that can affect your bite and mouth structure.

Bone Loss

Also known as bone resorption, the bone structure around the unoccupied tooth begins to deteriorate if there is nothing there to stimulate it. As a result, the bone loss can cause your lips and cheeks and lips to lose support from your bone structure, which will change your physical appearance.

If you are considering the replacement of missing teeth, there are a number of options available to you.  The most permanent options are dental implants and implant-supported dental bridges. Implants involve inserting titanium screws into the jaw that serve as artificial tooth roots, providing optimal long-term strength and stability. If a less invasive procedure is of interest, dentures and dental bridges are another great non-surgical treatment option for replacing missing teeth. Dental bridges are permanently attached to dental crowns to fill the gaps left by absent teeth. Dentures are a removable option to replace missing teeth.

Replacing missing teeth is an important issue to explore with our office. If you are missing teeth, we at River Valley Smiles are glad to talk with you about options to replace these teeth and ensure the health of your mouth for the long term. We have several options available to fit your budget and are here to support you in making the tooth replacement option that is best for you and your individual needs.

River Valley Smiles