When a patient is missing a tooth, or has to have a tooth taken out, it’s extremely important to make sure that tooth gets replaced. There are several reasons why this is the case:
After tooth loss, adjacent teeth move
Teeth are used to contacting one another on all sides. When a tooth loses physical contact with its neighbor, it will tend to drift in that direction to try to re-establish contact.
This means that over time, the teeth around a gap in your mouth will all move, and often in a way that is not easy to reverse. This movement can cause a variety of problems, including causing the roots of teeth to become exposed and sensitive, or causing teeth to tilt and extra spaces to form in your mouth.
After tooth loss, bone loss will also occur
Even though the bone in our bodies seems hard and rigid, it’s very much alive and active. The bone in your body, including the jaw bones that hold your teeth in, is constantly changing and remaking itself to better adapt to your needs. Everywhere in your body, bone responds to force. That means that just like weight-lifting can help your arm and leg bones grow denser and stronger, the very act of chewing keeps your mouth bones alive and healthy.
When your body senses that an area is no longer bearing force, such as when a tooth is taken out, it will naturally tend to withdraw resources from the bone in this area. This means that in an area where a tooth was removed, over time the bone will shrink. If too much shrinkage occurs in your jaw bones, it can make dental treatments more challenging, and can also expose nerves in your mouth.
Prevent tooth movement and bone loss by replacing teeth
To keep this from happening, dentists have a few options to replace lost or missing teeth. These include dentures, bridges, and implants. A denture is a removable tooth or set of teeth while a bridge involves shaving off the outside of adjacent teeth to anchor a fake tooth into a gap. Both of these options can be uncomfortable or not as easy to take care of, and can negatively affect the real teeth used as anchors.
So if a dental implant is an option, it’s almost always the best one. An implant is a titanium, body-safe screw which replaces the root portion of the tooth. The implant fuses with the bone and supports a false tooth called an implant crown. The process of replacing a tooth with an implant can take several months, but afterward many patients forget that they’re there because they feel so much like real teeth.
If you think you may need a dental implant, give our office a call to schedule an evaluation today!