When a person has lost one or more teeth they may consider one of a few different tooth replacement options. These may be surgical or temporary and removable. There is no black and white rule about the type of tooth replacement which is better, but dentists will usually try and replace teeth using surgical implants where possible.
Many people fail to see the importance of tooth replacement. It isn’t hard to understand this point of view. After all missing a tooth will not kill us so it is easy to consider tooth replacement to be only an aesthetic problem.
That is not to try to detract from the aesthetic issue posed by losing one or more teeth. Some people are more affected by changes to their appearance than others and the gaps left behind by missing teeth can impact greatly upon people’s lives. So affected are some people that they do not feel able to go out and enjoy social occasions for fear there will be cameras capturing their toothless smiles: their self-esteem is dramatically lowered by their missing tooth or teeth.
However, there is more to tooth replacement than simply rectifying an aesthetic issue. The absence of one tooth can lead to problems for the remaining teeth, even if they are healthy. It is not uncommon for neighboring teeth to grow at a sideways angle into the gap left by the missing tooth. This can weaken the healthy teeth and create additional gaps, leaving the teeth more susceptible to decay. Similarly, teeth above or below the missing tooth in the opposite jaw may grow higher or lower than they otherwise might have altered the shape of the bite.
All of these problems can be overcome and prevented using one of the available forms of replacement. However, there is a further problem that can only be prevented through surgical tooth replacement: the shrinkage of the jawbone.
The jawbone acts as the natural anchor for the root of the tooth. When an area of jaw bone has no teeth to anchor, it shrinks back, altering the shape of the jawline and weakening it in other areas, jeopardizing the remaining teeth. Removable and temporary tooth replacement options do not protect against this loss of bone because they do not require the use of the bone for anchorage. Surgical implants, on the other hand, do. It could be argued, therefore, that replacing one or a small number of missing teeth using surgical tooth replacement.
For information for patients on the latest tooth replacement options, visit Dr Rodney Raanan at Beverly Hills