Tooth loss among American adults is fairly common. Although the risk for tooth loss increases with age, it is still a common occurrence in nearly every age group.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that 7 percent of people in the United States have lost at least one permanent tooth to decay by the time they reach the age of 18. For those in the 35 to 44 age group, 69 percent have lost at least one permanent tooth — over two-thirds of young adults. By the age of 50, American adults are missing an average of 12 teeth. And, 26 percent of adults ages 65 to 74 have lost all their natural teeth. (https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/databriefs/db197.htm)
Replacing missing teeth is important, for many reasons. The appearance of a smile is greatly flawed when a gap is present due to a missing tooth or teeth. It also sends a rather negative message to others and can make an individual self-conscious about smiling. Yet, from a dentist’s standpoint, I know the presence of teeth do much more than help create a full smile.
In addition to the role of each tooth in biting, chewing, and speech, the teeth serve to support other teeth around them. Each tooth holds a position and helps to keep neighboring teeth in position. Not only is a tooth’s position supported by the teeth on either side, the tooth above or below also plays a role by helping to keep it at a proper height.
Maintaining proper position has a great deal to do with how your overall bite impacts your entire facial structure. You may be surprised to learn that disparities in bite alignment can create stress and strain on the jaw joints. The TMJ (temporo-mandibular joints) are what hinge your lower jaw to the skull. These joints are in constant motion, moving each time you eat and speak.
There is also an importance to your oral health when a tooth is lost. When a tooth is not replaced, it tends to create a domino effect. Adjacent teeth are placed at a higher risk for loss, being more vulnerable to decay, breaks, and gum disease.
To ensure your smile looks great and your oral health is protected, consider the following options for replacing teeth:
• Dental Implants – A dental implant is the closest thing to real teeth and is designed to last a lifetime. Because implants are positioned in the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots, they provide sturdy, dependable support for teeth that can bite and chew the foods you love. And, because they are held by the jaw bone, they recreate the presence of natural tooth roots. This enables the bone to retain mass and while preventing (or greatly minimizing) risks to surrounding teeth due to bone shrinkage.
• Crown & Bridge combinations – By crowning a natural tooth on each side of an area where teeth are missing, a ‘bridge’ of one, two, or several replacement teeth can be securely held. This restores a natural look and feel through crowns made of porcelain. Porcelain is one of the most durable, stain-resistant materials used in dentistry and provides exceptional longevity.
• Precision-Fitted Partials – A ‘partial’ refers to a partial denture. These are primarily used to replace back or side teeth when there are remaining natural teeth onto which they can be attached. In our Shelby Township dental office, we create partials to interact properly with surrounding teeth. This provides dependable chewing that fits harmonious with proper bite alignment. The comfort and longevity of your partial will be to an excellent level and made to blend naturally with existing teeth.
• Full Dentures – Replacing all upper or lower teeth using a full ‘arch’ of teeth can be done to an excellent level using modern techniques and materials, combined with advanced skills. For those who prefer a removable denture, natural-looking teeth are created and attached to a gum base that fits comfortably with the unique contours of your mouth. For first-time denture wearers, a full denture may take a few days to get used to. However, once the patient adapts to eating and speaking with a full ‘plate,’ confident smiling and comfortable chewing can be quickly restored.
• Cosmetic Dentures – In creating an upper denture for patients, we can incorporate measures to provide a ‘lift’ of facial muscles while smoothing out wrinkles around the mouth. This is done through careful construction of the height of the gum base. By extending its height, facial sags and wrinkles can be plumped up and out for a more-youthful appearance. We use advanced materials so the teeth and the gums provide you with a look and feel no one would ever guess is anything but your own beautiful, natural smile!
Of course, our goal is to help you avoid losing natural teeth so the decisions of replacement (and the associated costs) don’t occur in the first place! Our registered dental hygienists can help you achieve this by developing an easy-to-follow at-home oral care regimen. And, your 6-month dental check-ups and cleanings will give you a periodic clean slate so you’re better able to maintain good oral health between visits.
Regardless of your smile’s needs, our office provides a comprehensive care environment where comfort is always a priority. From cleanings to cosmetic dentistry, from braces to dental implants, from porcelain crowns to gum disease solutions, from dental implants to TMJ therapy, we are here for your every need.
Call 586-739-2155 to schedule a free consultation to begin. We are happy to discuss your smile and your preferences in tooth replacement – or any need – at no cost. If you like, our Financial Coordinator will be happy to meet with you during this time to discuss easy payment plans.