With so many advancements in modern dentistry, tooth loss might not seem like such a big deal. After all, a denture can quickly and conveniently fill in the gap. However, the issue is really not that simple. There are a multitude of consequences behind losing teeth.
The overarching goal of dentistry is to restore the look and function of the mouth in order to minimize impact on speech and oral health. The hidden problem rests in the fact that the more teeth a person is missing, the higher the risk for continual bone loss.
Effects of Tooth Loss
The most obvious effect of tooth loss is from an aesthetic perspective. Missing teeth alters the structure and shape of the face, which can lead to feelings of insecurity and even depression. This expands into psychological and social consequences.
Beyond unsightly gaps, something is happening below the surface. It is unseen and gradual, but nevertheless quite destructive.
In order to maintain its density and structure, the underlying bone needs stimulation. This stimulation comes directly from the teeth themselves. Every time teeth come into contact with each other, the bone is prompted to remodel and rebuild.
A Downward Spiral
Wherever a gap exists, the alveolar bone begins to shrink in height, width and volume. This loss causes the gum line to recede as well. Soon, the ability to chew is impaired and oral function steadily declines.
Once the alveolar bone is gone, the basal bone, referred to as the jawbone, will begin to reabsorb, thereby shrinking the distance between the nose and chin. The chin actually rotates upward as the cheeks start to sag inward.
Up until recently, the most common option for replacing a missing tooth was a fixed partial denture (FPD). The two surrounding teeth, called the abutment teeth, would be crowned in order to support a pontic, or false tooth, right in the middle.
An FPD can be customized and fitted within a few weeks, providing a relatively quick solution. However, it has proven not to be a lasting solution. Pontics can serve as havens for bacterial biofilm, causing the abutment teeth to decay and eventually break down structurally, which exponentially increases the risk of tooth loss.
A Better Option
A far superior treatment involves a single-tooth implant that fully replaces the missing tooth. Made of titanium, it is virtually impervious to decay and actually fuses with the jawbone. It looks, feels and functions like a natural tooth.