Why Replacing Lost Teeth is Important

Many people, when faced with the extraction of a permanent tooth, consider the option of not replacing it.  It can be tempting to leave the space empty.  The reason you should replace lost teeth is that it is genuinely better for your oral health.  In this week’s blog, we will explain the why and how of replacing lost teeth.

The Consequences of Not Replacing Lost Teeth

When you choose not to replace a lost tooth, your mouth can suffer a variety of consequences.  Here are the most important ones.

Increased Wear and Tear on Surrounding Teeth

When you lose a tooth and do not replace it, the remaining teeth are forced to withstand heavier forces.  For example, when people lose several back teeth, they end up putting more chewing force on the smaller, weaker front teeth.

Heavier forces leads to a higher risk for broken teeth and receding gums.  In general, tooth loss can have a domino effect.  The more teeth you lose (and do not replace), the more likely you are to lose additional teeth.

Decreased Chewing Ability

One essential purpose of the teeth is the chewing of food.  Chewing is the important first step in the digestive process.  It breaks large pieces of food into smaller, more digestible particles.  It also exposes the food to salivary enzymes, which chemically break down the molecules in food.

When even a single tooth is missing, chewing force is impaired.  We hear many patients say that they did not realize how much chewing ability they were missing until they replaced the missing tooth!

Changes in Tooth Position and Bite

Teeth are held in position by the teeth around them and the teeth that bite against them.  When a tooth is missing, the teeth around it often shift and change position.  This change in position can change the way the upper and lower teeth bite together.

Changes in the bite can cause problems in the jaw joints (TMJs).  Bite changes also contribute to impaired chewing ability and wear and tear on the adjacent teeth.  You can see that it can be a snowball effect, with one problem worsening another.

The Options to Replace Lost Teeth

If you are facing the extraction of a tooth, you can prevent all of the consequences we listed above by replacing it.  At Timberlake Dental, we are proud to help our patients maintain great oral health by replacing lost teeth.  Each tooth replacement option has pros and cons.  Some replacement options are great for replacing a single tooth, while others are better for a case in which someone is missing multiple teeth.

In general, we can separate the options into three major categories.

  1. Removable Tooth Replacements

The least expensive option to replace a lost tooth is a removable partial denture.  By removable, we mean that the patient takes the appliance in and out of the mouth.  These are not the best-looking teeth replacements, but they are the most affordable.  They also have the advantage of replacing multiple teeth with one appliance.

  1. Tooth-Supported Fixed Replacements

Commonly called a “bridge”, these replacement teeth attach onto the adjacent teeth for support.  We call them “fixed” because your dentist cements them onto the teeth, and the patient cannot remove them from the mouth.  A bridge is the fastest way to replace a missing tooth, and it is best for the replacement of a single tooth (two small teeth at the most).  Bridges require healthy teeth on both sides of the missing tooth space for support, so they are not an option when the missing tooth is the farthest back tooth.

  1. Dental Implants

The most natural way to replace a missing tooth is with a dental implant.  Your dentist places dental implants directly into the jawbone, like a natural tooth’s root.  It is the only tooth replacement option that replaces the entire tooth.  Dental implants are the most expensive and require the most time, and as you may expect, they provide the most benefits.

Implants restore full chewing force without burdening the remaining teeth in any way.

More Questions about Lost Teeth?

Call Timberlake Dental at 940-382-1750 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chowning.  He can answer any questions you have about replacing lost teeth and assess your specific situation to advise you of your replacement options.  We love helping our patients replace missing teeth.