November 20, 2018
If you’ve read our blogs here at Pacific Northwest Periodontics before, you know that we love the stress the importance of replacing missing teeth as soon as possible. Although we’ve covered a few of the reasons why this is such as bone loss in the jaw, we thought it would be best to clarify this and mention all the reasons why it’s important to consider dental implants, either if you know you’re going to lose a tooth or you’ve already lost one. If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to call us and schedule an appointment with our board-certified periodontists.
What Causes Tooth Loss?
Tooth loss is far more common than many people realize. According to the American College of Prosthodontists, 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth while 36 million are missing all of their teeth. These are startling numbers and reflect an unfortunate trend that only seems to be growing across the U.S. But what is the cause of missing teeth and what can we do about it?
Gum disease (periodontal disease) is the number one cause of tooth loss. Gum disease can range from mild to severe and damages the supporting structures of your teeth like the gums, periodontal ligament, and the jawbone. For the most part, gum disease is preventable through a consistent and thorough oral hygiene routine and by avoiding sugary foods that can damage the teeth and gums leaving them susceptible to infection by bacteria.
In some cases, physical trauma to the mouth either from a sports-related injury or accident can result in a premature loss of a tooth or multiple teeth. Unfortunately, when oral injuries do occur, many people do not realize it until an infection occurs. If you have sustained trauma to the mouth, whether it’s your gums or teeth, be sure to speak with your local periodontist immediately. Although you may not be at risk of losing a tooth, you can never be too careful.
The American Cancer Society estimates that around 51,540 people have oral cancer in 2018. Oral cancer is notoriously difficult to detect and diagnose because cancerous growths in the mouth are often mistaken with mouth sores that are common among the general public. Many oral health specialists will screen for oral cancer with each visit, but it never hurts to ask about it if you have any concerns.
Another major cause of tooth loss is old age. Over time, the structures supporting the teeth begin to break down and weaken making them more likely to fail. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, almost 30 percent of seniors over the age of 65 have no remaining teeth. It doesn’t help that in old age, it becomes much more difficult to maintain a good oral health routine.
Why It Matters
Although tooth loss in seniors has decreased since the 1970s, it still remains a major problem to this day. And many people who do have one or many missing teeth never actually get the treatment they need to fix the issue. Here at Pacific Northwest Periodontics, we believe that dental implants are the only truly effective and permanent solution to missing teeth. Let’s take a look at some of the problems associated with missing teeth and how dental implants can help.
Difficulty Eating And Speaking
The most obvious result of missing teeth is that you’ll have difficulty eating and speaking. Every tooth we have like our incisors, canines, and molars have a unique purpose, and when one or more is missing, it’s immediately evident how difficult it is to live a normal life. Many people who lose a tooth end up drastically changing their diet and develop unhealthy habits.
Change In Facial Structure
Unfortunately, a missing tooth isn’t an isolated issue; one or several missing teeth can change the whole structure of your face and jaw. Not only is this change almost always undesirable, but it can also threaten the integrity of your remaining teeth. When teeth are lost, your jaw will realign to accommodate for the missing teeth and can put a lot of stress on certain teeth that, in turn, could eventually be lost as well.
When a tooth is lost, surrounding teeth will usually adjust and move over slightly due to the open space. The longer the space remains unfilled, the more likely surrounding teeth are to become crooked. When a tooth is missing, something called “overeruption” or “supereruption” occurs. This is the physiological movement of a tooth lacking an opposing partner in the dental occlusion. In other words, when there’s a lack of opposing force on your teeth, they tend to erupt beyond the line of the occlusion. This could result in exposed tooth roots and increase your chance of developing periodontal disease.
Learn About Our Dental Implant Procedure
Although dentures are often used to fill the space created by missing teeth, this is only a temporary fix and can lead to even more oral health problems. However, here at Pacific Northwest Periodontics, we are happy to offer a permanent solution to missing teeth: dental implants. We are able to perform single-tooth implants, multiple tooth implants, or All-On-4 dental implants. If you have any questions for us about this process or you’re ready to set up your first appointment, give us a call today.