Observed annually on March 20th, World Oral Health Day is meant to raise awareness of the importance of oral health and its role in maintaining overall well being.
Today we’d like to discuss the particular issue of missing teeth. You may think of this as merely a cosmetic problem, but it’s far more.
When you have a gap in your smile, it is not just unsightly. It may have serious consequences on your confidence and how you engage with the world. And it is bad for your health.
At Marineland Dental Care, we have teeth-replacement options for all situations and all budgets. We’d love to discuss how we can help make your smile whole again. Call our Kennewick, WA office at 509-591-0515.
An Incomplete Smile Is a Health Issue
Those spaces where teeth should be may have a number of negative effects on your health.
Bacteria love to proliferate throughout your mouth, especially in hidden-away areas that you can’t clean thoroughly even with diligent brushing and flossing. When a tooth is missing, it leaves behind a cavernous space perfect for bacteria to move into. And an excess of harmful bacteria in your mouth is bad news. It creates acids that eat away your tooth enamel, causing cavities, and creates the inflammation that leads to gum disease. And gum disease is associated with many harmful systemic problems, including heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Teeth rely on each other for support and to hold their place in the mouth. When there is a gap, the surrounding teeth may begin to move into that space, eventually causing a cascade of shifting teeth in your mouth. This may lead to problems eating, a bad bite, and jaw pain.
When you have teeth missing from your mouth, you may have difficulty chewing. Your bite may change, especially if you have to compensate for lost molars. This can cause pain and other problems with your TMJ, the two joints that connect your upper and lower jaws.
Your jawbone remains strong and healthy largely due to stimulation from your teeth as they chew and bite down. If no tooth is present, the bone in that area will disintegrate and waste away.
Teeth support the muscles and skin of your face. When they fall out and are not replaced, your face will not get the support it needs and it will begin to sag, giving you an aged, sunken appearance.
Let us emphasize again: replacing teeth that are missing from your mouth is not just about looking good, it’s a health issue.
If you want a real replacement for your tooth — one that functions, feels, and looks just like the real thing — you want a dental implant. What sets this restoration apart from the others is that it replaces the entire tooth, including the root.
The dental implant itself is an artificial tooth root constructed of sturdy titanium. We will surgically insert the titanium post into your jawbone. Over the next few months, as you recover, your bone will fuse with the post, cementing it securely in place.
Once you are healed from your initial surgery, you will come back into our office to complete the process. We will attach a connector called an abutment, and, finally, your beautiful restoration (typically a crown for a single lost tooth) . You will be able to eat what you want, you won’t have to deal with messy denture creams, and you brush and floss just like you always have. And since the dental implant is deep in your jawbone, it prevents deterioration and bone loss.
Mini Dental Implants
Conventional dental implants require a thick, healthy jawbone to be effective. If you’ve suffered bone loss due to your missing teeth, they may not be appropriate for you, but you may be a candidate for mini dental implants. These offer many of the same benefits of their larger counterparts: they are durable, enable you to eat and clean your teeth normally, and help preserve your jawbone.
But mini dental implants can be successful if you lack bone density and thickness, because they are so small. Plus they heal more quickly than full-sized dental implants, they are less expensive, and a restoration may be attached immediately — no need to wait months for your initial surgery to heal.
A dental bridge is a restoration that can replace a single missing tooth or several adjacent missing teeth. A conventional bridge relies on adjacent healthy teeth for support. These will have a small amount of enamel removed, after which they will be topped with dental crowns. These crowns support an artificial tooth, called a pontic, in the middle.
Bridges may also be used in conjunction with dental implants. This is an excellent option of you have a few missing teeth in a row. You will have the benefits and stability of implants, but don’t have to get an individual one for each missing tooth.
Dentures with Implants
If you have a full arch of missing teeth, individual dental implants are costly and impractical. And traditional dentures rely on sticky adhesives and suction to remain in place — which in reality means they may slip and slide around your mouth. That is uncomfortable and embarrassing.
At Marineland Dental Care, we have a solution. We are able to secure dentures onto just a couple of well-placed dental implants. So you end up with a full arch of beautiful, brand new teeth with the security and benefits of implants. You don’t have to worry about them sliding around, you don’t have to restrict yourself to certain foods, you maintain the health and structure of your jawbone.
You can get implants with dentures for your lower jaw, upper jaw, or even both. They are especially recommended for the lower jaw, as this is where conventional dentures are the most prone to slippage.
Replace your teeth and improve your health. If you have missing teeth and live in the Kennewick, WA area, call Marineland Dental Care for a tooth-replacement consultation. You may reach us via our handy web form or call our office directly at 509-591-0515.