By Dr. Laura Wellner
Missing teeth can lead to large spaces between the remaining teeth that affect how you eat, how you look, and even how you speak. First, the ability to chew adequately is diminished. This in turn can affect what we eat. Healthy, crunchy foods, such as carrots or apples, can be difficult to chew when teeth are missing. Softer foods that are easier to chew are often not as nutritious. This can certainly adversely affect our overall health. Being able to eat healthy is essential to our well-being.
Beyond decreased chewing ability, missing teeth can lead to other changes in our mouth and face. The remaining teeth may drift and tilt into the spaces created by missing teeth. As teeth are lost, some of the surrounding bone will be lost also. This can cause decreased support to the cheeks and lips, causing our facial features to sag. This often makes us look older than our age.
Speaking can sometimes become affected depending on where and how many teeth are missing. And certainly, if the missing teeth are visibly noticeable, it can change our appearance and chip away at self-confidence, making us not want to smile as much as we would like.
Thankfully, there are several options to replace missing teeth. Dental implants, dental bridges and dentures are the three main treatments for missing teeth.
Dental implants have been around for decades. This is the dental treatment that most closely resembles natural teeth. The implant itself, usually made of titanium, is anchored in the bone similar to where the tooth’s root used to be. The top of the implant is then restored as either a single tooth or as part of a multiple teeth restoration.
Dental bridges serve to replace teeth by “bridging” the gap left by missing teeth. The bridge is permanently attached to the teeth on either side of the space, and does not come in and out of the mouth.
Full or partial dentures are removable appliances that replace some or all teeth. They are not permanently in the mouth and can come in and out. Dentures can rely on the soft tissues, other remaining teeth or implants for retention and support.
With today’s advances in dentistry, you don’t have to suffer with missing teeth. Visit your dentist, or find a dentist if you don’t have one, and talk about the different treatment options. There are options for every situation and every budget. Missing teeth shouldn’t make you miss out!