People who have lost teeth can experience problems with eating, speaking and appearance, and the way in which missing teeth can sometimes impact on your jaw can cause headaches. There may even be a change to your bite (that is the way in which your teeth meet when you close your jaw). Your remaining teeth may not have the support that they need as the jawbone deteriorates, which can also change the shape of your face, and those remaining teeth could also move, creating a crooked look.
Adults in the UK have on average 7 missing teeth.
There are solutions, each with advantages and disadvantages. You may want to consider which aspects are important to you – cost, appearance, longevity, comfort, convenience and durability.
Your decision might also rest on where your teeth are missing – the front, back or both. If you are missing a back tooth, it is probably not noticeable when you smile, so it may not be something you think about replacing. However, it’s worth having a chat to a dentist, who will be able to tell you what damage might be taking place, if any.
Reasons for missing teeth
Apart from an injury which knocked out a tooth, teeth can fall out when they are decayed or when there is gum disease.
It might be as a result of a genetic condition known as hypodontia. This cause some of the baby teeth or the adult teeth to be absent, although this condition mostly affects wisdom teeth which aren’t usually replaced.
Treatments for replacing missing teeth
Some people think that their only affordable option is dentures, which can replace any number of teeth. False teeth are removable for cleaning and some wearers experience the dentures slipping or find them uncomfortable, perhaps becoming looser with time. However, others live very happily with dentures.
Implants are closest to the real thing, because the implant is actually inserted into your jawbone to replace the tooth’s root. It then fuses with the bone to prevent bone loss. An implant may support a single tooth crown or two implants can support a bridge of 3 or 4 teeth. Implants are clearly the most expensive choice, but they are also the most long lasting. There’s no special cleaning required – just a good routine of brushing and flossing.
A bridge is supported by teeth which are adjacent to the gap, which have to be filed so that the bridge fits over the top, then is secured with an adhesive. There is also a bonded bridge which has wings which fix to the adjacent teeth, so that there’s no need to remove any enamel.
Bridges can be seen as a compromise in terms of price and durability.
If a small gap remains between two teeth, a veneer can be applied to either side of the gap in order to fill it. However, this is not a recommended missing tooth replacement.
If your remaining teeth have moved as a result of tooth loss, braces may be needed to put them back gradually into their correct positions. Once this has taken place, the missing teeth can be replaced.
Dentures don’t suit everyone and could result in a deterioration of the jaw bone. However, they are an affordable way to replace teeth and nowadays, they do look more natural and are more comfortable than earlier versions.
Implants are expensive for the reasons outlined above, but finance is often available from your dental practice.If you want to find out more, just ask one of our team at The Mall.