- June 9, 2016
We want to say from the outset that we hope none of these things ever happen to you.
If you lost a toe or a finger in an accident, you most likely would be sad about it, but you would find a way to cope.
If you lose a single tooth, it can change you, too. You may be more aware of your teeth when you smile. You may start to worry that people are judging you.
And if you don’t replace your lost tooth, it has the real potential to lead to further loss of teeth. (That’s not a concern with missing fingers and toes.)
Fortunately if you live in or near Williamsburg, VA, you can visit Historic Triangle Dental Care for restorative dentistry. This includes our ability to completely replace a missing tooth.
Two Approaches To Tooth Replacement
A single tooth can be replaced one of two ways. Either you can get a dental bridge, or you can have a dental implant placed in your jaw with a dental crown on top.
To explain how they are different, we will explain what happens with each, starting with the dental bridge.
Like a bridge used for transportation, a dental bridge spans a gap. This one just happens to be in your mouth.
This kind of bridge would consist of three dental crowns that have been fused together. The crowns on the outside serve as the anchor points for the bridge.
Those crowns are bonded to the teeth on either side of the gap created by your lost tooth. Those teeth are reshaped into abutments, and your bridge is placed over them. Those teeth provide the support that allows you to continue eating foods that you love.
You may have realized that there is nothing below the crown in the middle of your dental bridge. We will explain why that matters in a moment.
If you want a complete tooth replacement, then we recommend dental implant and a dental crown instead.
Dental implants are titanium cylinders that replace the roots of your teeth. When the are placed, you bone bond to your implant to keep it secure and stable.
By placing a dental crown on the abutment end of the implant, your “tooth” can look as good as new. In addition to having a complete tooth replacement (root and crown), you don’t have to do anything to the adjacent healthy teeth to hold it in place.
Drifting And Density
One of the problems, when you lose a tooth, is that your other teeth lose a piece of their mutual support system.
You probably don’t realize it but your teeth move every day. This causes them to press against one another. As one tooth pushes and another pushes back, they stay in the same positions from a practical perspective.
If a tooth is missing, however, then the adjacent teeth lose part of their push-back. This can lead to those teeth “drifting” into the open space. This can affect your bite and your ability to chew certain foods.
As those teeth drift, it can lead to further drifting by more teeth, too.
The other problems with losing a tooth is a result of losing your root. When you bite and chew, you press your teeth into your jawbone. That pressure sends a signal to the bone to encourage it to continue making new tissue.
Older tissue goes through a process called resorption. New tissue needs to be created to keep the bone strong.
Without a root to provide pressure, you will slowly start to lose bone mass. Studies have shown that someone with a missing tooth can lose up to 25 percent of his or her bone density in that part of her jaw in 12 months.
If this continues, the bone loss can affect neighboring teeth and leave them more vulnerable to falling out. With enough time, you could lose more and more teeth, which only makes the bone loss worse.
A dental implant takes the place of your root. It doesn’t just take up space, it all provide the necessary pressure to stimulate the bone and keep it healthy.
This is a big part of why we appreciate what implants can do for our patients.
Stop The Domino Effect
Admittedly, these would be some slow falling dominoes, but that doesn’t change the fact that losing one tooth makes you more likely to lose more teeth.
That is unless you replace that tooth, which you can do easily if you live in or near Williamsburg, VA. Historic Triangle Dental Care is here to help you.