Saturday, January 21, 2012

Why It's Important to Replace Missing Teeth by Meredi Wagner-Hoehn

Tooth loss can result from any number of unanticipated events – trauma, gum disease, age or malnutrition. However, once the tooth is gone, the problems can really start to stack up. Missing teeth don’t just leave a hole in your mouth; they affect your overall health. Leaving an empty space can have serious personal consequences. Here are a few things to consider before ignoring a missing tooth.

The Cosmetic Angle

First, there’s the obvious consideration of how a broad smile looks with empty gaps. Just one missing tooth can detract from the visual impact of a smile, affecting social introductions and business communications. It also affects a person’s personal image of themselves, disrupting their confidence levels.

However, a missing tooth reaches farther than just an empty gap, cosmetically speaking. It may also cause sagging facial skin, aging a person years in just a few months. It can also result in bone loss, absorbing jaw bone back into the body and minimizing the actual jaw structure. This not only ages a person’s appearance, but also shortens the face, making patients look squatter than they actually are.

The Nutritional Deficits

A missing tooth makes it more difficult to chew naturally, causing an imbalance in nutritional intake. This can either result in not consuming enough food since it’s so difficult to chew, or consuming an incorrect proportion of food types – for example, reverting to only light soups and apple sauce. You may be eating enough to feel full, but if you’re not getting the right diet of protein and vegetables, your health is on a downward slope.

The Speech Impediments

When there’s a physical adjustment in your mouth, the voice has to learn new ways of traveling. A missing tooth can result in speech impediments because you no longer have the same vocal tools you’ve had since you learned to speak.

The Potential Gum Disease

Even if gum disease didn’t cause the initial tooth loss, missing a tooth can contribute to the development of gum disease. An empty gap can make it more difficult to reach the surrounding teeth and gum tissue, and it provides safer hiding for bacteria. Gum disease may evolve from that gathering plaque, which could cause further tooth loss in the neighboring areas.

The Orthopedic Issues

When a space opens up in the dental set, the rest of the teeth try to fill it all on their own. They fall in towards the empty space, causing misalignment, crooked teeth and an off-center bite. This can negatively affect the overall aesthetic of your teeth. It also can encourage temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, causing pain and discomfort in the jaw.

To prevent these conditions, call your Austin periodontist, Dr. Mike Williamson, today. He’ll provide a free consultation before proceeding with a dental implant, fixed bridge or dentures, offering the most beneficial treatment for your particular circumstances.