The “Why” and “How” of Replacing Teeth

added on: August 21, 2023

For parents, seeing a child lose that first “baby” tooth is a landmark moment – something celebrated. However, the thoughts of our grown children losing a permanent tooth never comes to mind, probably since those thoughts concur up the outcome of an accident, injury or disease.

While losing a natural tooth can create worries over appearance, the repercussions of adult tooth loss are more complex than merely how a smile looks. Losing a natural tooth increases the risks for subsequent tooth loss and causes worry over costs for replacement and ongoing maintenance.

Unfortunately, adult tooth loss in the U.S. is fairly common. Like almost anything with the human body, teeth endure ‘wear and tear’ over the years. Just as joints wear down with age and the degree of use, teeth are susceptible to cracks, fractures, decay and disease. And, yes, subsequent loss.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), over two-thirds of adults ages 35 – 44 have lost at least one permanent tooth. By age 50, adults are missing an average of 12 teeth with over 26% of ages 65 – 74 having lost all of their natural teeth.

Fortunately, statistics show that the number of teeth retained by older adults is increasing. Research published by the Journal of the American Dental Association in 2019 shared statistics on the improvement in time periods 1999-2004 compared to 2009-2014. Researchers found that the percentage of adults keeping all their teeth improved from 14% to 21%. Too, they found the number of adults who experienced complete tooth loss declined significantly, from 17% to 11%.

This is thought to be partly due to public water-fluoridation programs, reduced smoking rates and improved access to dental insurance. Yet, despite all the improvements and commitments to good oral health, adults can still lose teeth.

The reason we often advise crowning a tooth that is fractured, chipped, or decayed is to avoid its potential loss. A crown protects the remaining structure. The ultimate goal is to keep natural teeth healthy throughout a lifespan. With teeth, nothing is as good as that which was designed from birth to be a major player in your oral and overall health.

Yet, when they are lost, replacing them matters – a lot. If a tooth is lost, even if it’s not visible in a smile, it’s important that it be replaced.

Teeth need proper alignment, as each tooth is dependent on the one on each side as well as the ones above (or below). Without the support of neighboring teeth, neighboring teeth can lean or tilt out of their proper positions. This leads to bite misalignment.

A misaligned bite (or ‘malocclusion’) is the primary cause of TMJ disorder. This is when the jaw joints are strained and lead to worn teeth, chips, tooth fractures or broken teeth. It can also be the source of headaches, migraines, sore facial or neck muscles, night-time clenching or grinding, ear ringing and dizziness (or vertigo).

As a neuromuscular dentist, I have extended training and skills in helping patients enjoy the benefits of a properly-aligned smile. Through integrating neuromuscular measures in restorative and dental implant treatment, we help to minimize the risks associated with bite misalignment.

In our Shelby Township dental office, we also provide exceptional options to replace teeth, restoring a natural look, feel and function. These include:

• Crown & Bridge – In this, a fixed bridge (a replacement tooth or teeth) is held by crowned teeth on both sides of the missing natural tooth (or teeth). With the supporting teeth crowned, the bridge is secured, which restores appearance and chewing ability.

With exceptional precision and the esthetic talents of one of the nation’s most renowned dental labs, we provide our patients with beautiful, custom crowns and bridges that blend naturally with surrounding teeth. This gives our patients a natural look and feel as well as excellent longevity.

Although crown-&-bridge combinations are a common replacement option, they do not prevent decline of jaw bone mass. Without the stimulation that natural tooth roots once provided to the jaw bone, bone height shrinks over time. This can increase the risk for bridge breakage and/or the need for crown replacement.

• Dental ImplantsDental implants are the preferred option for replacing teeth for several reasons. They are ideal for restored confidence when speaking, laughing and eating a healthy selection of foods. Each implant is positioned in the jaw bone, providing the same, sturdy foundation as that of natural teeth. This means there is no need for adjacent teeth to be crowned to merely support a bridge.

Another advantage is how one implant can often support more than one tooth. In many cases, a bridge of two or three teeth can be attached. Or, when all upper or lower teeth are missing, a full arch can often be supported with 6 or 8 strategically-placed implants. This helps to contain treatment costs since the fees are largely based on the number of implants placed. Learn more about dental implants at: DrBarbatDentalImplants

To facilitate proper diagnosis and placement, our Macomb County dental office utilizes advanced imaging technology to optimize treatment outcomes. Here, we provide all stages of implant treatment in one convenient location – from diagnosis to placement to the placement of your beautiful porcelain restorations (replacement teeth). Learn more about our advanced technology at: DrBarbatTechnology

A dental implant, properly maintained, is designed to last a lifetime. The success rate of implants is excellent – up to 98% – higher than any other implant-in-bone success rate. An implant will never develop a cavity, need a root canal or have detrimental effects on surrounding teeth. They are the closest thing to the look, feel and function of natural teeth.

The placement process for dental implants is performed while our patients relax in complete comfort. In our Shelby Twp dental office, placement is done while patients are sedated, either with oral sedation or IV sedation (“twilight sleep”).

• Partial Dentures – A ‘partial’ replaces several teeth, and is positioned on top of the gums. The teeth are held by a gum-colored base. In most cases, the partial denture attaches to neighboring teeth with the help of metal framework that wraps existing natural teeth. We design partials so they are secure and create an attractive, natural-looking means of restoring a smile and the ability to bite, chew and speak.

• Full Dentures – When an individual is missing all upper or lower teeth, full dentures can be created to restore the presence of teeth. A full denture is a complete arch of upper or lower teeth, with the teeth attached to a gum-colored base. It sits on top of the gums, which is shaped to the upper or lower ‘ridge.’

The ridge is the raised arch in your mouth where natural tooth roots were once held. The gum-colored base of the denture is custom-made to conform to the unique contours of your ridge.

While a full denture can provide a comfortable, attractive way to replace teeth, problems can occur as the ridge begins to flatten. This is the result of bone resorption, which occurs when tooth roots are no longer present to provide stimulation to the bone. Bone loss can cause the denture to begin to move or “slip”, requiring more frequent applications of adhesive. We can also do periodic “relines” to reshape the gum base so it better conforms to the ridge’s reduced bone height.

For tooth replacement, it’s easy to see why we typically advise dental implants. They are the closest thing to natural teeth. Because implants are positioned in the jaw bone, just as natural tooth roots, they give sturdy, dependable support for teeth that can bite and chew the foods you love.

In our Shelby Twp dental office, we provide all phases of dental implants in one location. We also make patient comfort a priority at every appointment and offer added relaxation options. As mentioned above, Oral Sedation and I.V. Sedation (“twilight sleep”) are available in addition to a gentle touch. Learn more about comfort options at: DrBarbatComfort

To help patients enjoy the benefits of their preferred tooth replacement option, we offer several payment plans that require no down payment and are interest-free. There are no prepayment penalties and monthly payments can be paced to accommodate most budgets. If you like, our Financial Coordinator will be happy to meet with you during this time to discuss the plan that can work best for you.

Call 586-739-2155 or tap here to request a free consultation. During this time, we will discuss your preferences in tooth replacement.

Regardless of the tooth replacement option you choose, rest assured that your treatment will be performed with precision detail and exceptional quality with comfort always a priority. Begin with a short video: DrBarbatConsult

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Dr. Ban R. Barbat

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