Many people think that losing a tooth may not be a big deal, especially if it is the back tooth (molar), as aesthetically few people would notice the gap that is left behind. A visit to the dentist at this point will likely result in a recommendation to replace the missing tooth with a denture, bridge or dental implant.
Some people may decide to postpone replacing the missing tooth for the time being since there is usually little discomfort from a missing tooth. Others may find that they cannot chew as well since most of the chewing activities are carried out by the back teeth. However, this is usually not an urgent enough issue to spur them to doing something about the missing tooth.
Contrary to common belief, there are many legitimate good reasons to replace the missing teeth.
Apart from the functional reason (i.e., chewing better), it is important to not leave a gap between teeth to avoid the following in the long run:
- Losing your bone: When our teeth are missing, the gums that support the teeth recede and bone loss also occurs. When gum tissue and bone are destroyed, it is still possible to replace a missing tooth. With an experienced dentist, bone grafting can be carried out and an implant can be placed. However, a delay in replacing the missing tooth does not make the problem smaller but instead makes the problem bigger, worse and more costly to resolve. Thus, address the problem when it is simpler and cheaper.
- Sunken facial structure: Our teeth and gums provide support to our face. After teeth are lost, ongoing shrinkage of the jawbone occurs, making the face look shorter. The net effect is that one ages faster than s/he should. Replacing the missing tooth is important to give support to the cheek, overall facial structure and delay the arrival of the aged look.
- Teeth start drifting apart: If there are gaps in the mouth, the adjacent teeth will start moving. Given enough time, you may notice gaps in your front teeth and some may drift apart causing gaps between other teeth. In short, the bite will go out of whack! When it happens, the treatment plan in replacing the one missing tooth become more challenging. Depending on the condition, braces treatment may be recommended to align the teeth and create a space before placing a replacement tooth.
Understanding the need to replace missing teeth is important. However, prevention is always better than cure. Taking care of your teeth, with brushing, flossing, and regular visits to the dentist will help you preserve your natural teeth as long as possible.
If you are interested to find out more about options for replacing missing teeth, join the Specialist Dental Group team on Saturday, July 30 from 2:00 pm to 5:30 pm at the Suntec Convention Centre for an informative dental seminar. Tickets available from SISTIC. OCBC credit card members receive 10% off ticket fees. More details available at: https://www.specialistdentalgroup.com/events.php