Lost a Tooth? It’s Not the End of the World

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Lost a Tooth? It’s Not the End of the World

Losing a tooth is always an emotional experience for patients. Unless you are five years old and anticipate a visit from the tooth fairy, few people are happy when a tooth needs to be extracted. Losing a tooth to decay often means you neglected your oral health too long and waited for pain to tell you there was a problem. It can also be the result of a deep crack you may not have been aware of until it became infected. No matter what happened to your tooth, it feels terrible when you’ve lost it. There’s no sense in wallowing in that feeling, of course, because your Grant Park Dentist Dr. Abbey Lee can easily replace it for you!

Call Smiles 4 Grant Park to learn about dental bridges and Grant Park dental implants to replace a lost tooth. The faster you replace a tooth, the less likely you are to develop negative changes to your tooth alignment. Call 404-328-7177 or schedule an appointment online.

How a Lost Tooth Affects Your Dentition

Most patients’ first concern is for their appearance. Will my not-tooth be visible when I smile? Can I interact with others without them noticing? However, it’s really your oral health that should be the number one concern. Many people think, “Hey, I have plenty of other teeth I can use; losing one isn’t a big deal.” But they couldn’t be more wrong. The rest of your teeth will be affected by a gap in your alignment.

It starts with the teeth immediately next to your lost tooth. Over time, they will drift and begin to turn inward, toward the gap. As they do this, it creates a new gap with the teeth next to them. Soon the teeth that once sat up straight are now turned at angle. This means that when you bite and chew they are taking pressure and friction from the side rather than at the top, where they are meant to. This can cause functional changes in your bite alignment. When your bite and chewing function are not optimal, this leads to enamel erosion, which can make the teeth more vulnerable to cracking.

Worse than the damage to individual teeth, a lost tooth can also lead to painful TMJ symptoms. It all goes back to how you bite and chew. If you are missing a valuable molar in the back, for example, you may start to chew more on the opposite side of the mouth to compensate. Most people are unaware that they are doing this, but over time it can lead to an imbalance in the jaw muscles. This can ultimately change how the jaw joints function and lead to TMJ disorder. Symptoms can include muscle fatigue, facial pain, teeth grinding (more damage to the teeth), headaches and neck pain.

A lost tooth is not the end of the world, but it could be the beginning of the end of your good oral health. People who lose a tooth and do not replace it are more likely to lose more teeth in the future. Replace the tooth promptly, however, and your oral health and tooth alignment will stay in good standing.

Tooth Replacement Options

There are two ways to fit a prosthetic tooth into your smile. The traditional approach is a dental bridge. Bridges look like a connected row of three false teeth. The two teeth on the ends of the bridge are actually crowns, that will be attached to the teeth adjacent to your gap. A bridge will stabilize the teeth and give you back a tooth to replace the one you lost. Bridges tend to last about eight years before needing replacement and look very natural in your smile. The only caveat with bridges is that they are dependent on the good health of your crowned teeth for support. If one of those teeth fails, due to decay for example, the whole bridge fails. Bridges also do nothing to prevent bone loss in the jaw at the site of the lost tooth. Over time, your bone ridge will become lower and lower where you lost the tooth.

The other (better) option for replacing a lost tooth is a dental implant. Grant Park dental implants replace a lost tooth, root to crown. They are a free-standing, lifelike replacement for your missing tooth and will function exactly as your natural tooth did. Dental implants require a surgical procedure, but they tend to last a very, very long time. It is extremely rare for a well-placed and well-cared-for dental implant to fail or need replacement. With a 98-99 percent success rate, most dental implants will last a lifetime.

To learn more about Grant Park dental implants, contact our dental office and request a consultation with Dr. Abbey Lee. She will explain your options for tooth replacement, including the process, timeline, and estimated costs. Call 404-328-7177 or schedule an appointment online.

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