According to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, 69% of adults aged 35 to 44 have at least one missing tooth. And by age 74, 26% of adults have lost all their teeth. Missing teeth can happen for various reasons, including injury, periodontal disease, or tooth decay. And when you lose a tooth, it’s important to replace it as soon as possible.
Missing teeth can lead to a host of problems, including an increased risk of gum disease and even depression. When you have missing teeth, chewing your food can also be difficult. This can make it hard to get the nutrients your body needs. In addition, missing teeth can cause changes in speech. It’s no surprise that missing teeth can change how you speak because your teeth play a huge part in pronouncing words.
But what are your options for replacing missing teeth? Keep reading to learn more about the different types of missing teeth and how they can be replaced.
The Different Types of Missing Teeth
There are three main types of missing teeth: whole tooth loss, partial tooth loss, and broken tooth fragments. Here’s a closer look at each one:
- Whole tooth loss occurs when the entire tooth is lost. This can happen due to an injury, periodontal disease, or tooth decay. Examples of periodontal disease are gingivitis, a gum disease, and periodontitis, which is an inflammation of the gums.
- Partial tooth loss occurs when only a portion of the tooth is lost. Examples of these are cracked teeth or chipped teeth. Partial tooth loss is most commonly caused by injury. These injuries can be caused by biting down on hard food or playing contact sports without wearing a mouthguard.
- Broken tooth fragments are pieces of teeth that have broken off. They can be caused by the same types of injuries that cause partial tooth loss.
How Missing Teeth Can Be Replaced
There are different ways that missing teeth can be replaced, including dental implants, dentures, and bridges. Some argue the best way to replace missing teeth is with dental implants.
Dental implants are titanium posts surgically placed into the jawbone where teeth are missing. Once the posts are in place, artificial teeth are placed on top. Dental implants look and feel like natural teeth, and they’re permanent—which means you don’t have to remove them for cleaning as you do with dentures.
However, dental implants aren’t right for everyone; you need to have enough bone in your jaw to support them, and you need to be in good overall health. That said, dental implant surgery has risks, including infection, nerve damage, and sinus problems. Nonetheless, these are rare and can usually be treated with ease.
Also, the cost of dental implants can be prohibitive for some people. Fortunately, there are inexpensive dental implant options available on the market. These options can help you get the smile you’ve always wanted without breaking the bank.
Dentures are another option for replacing missing teeth. Dentures are false teeth that are removable. They can be taken out and put back in at will, which makes them easy to clean. And unlike dental implants, just about anyone can get dentures. They’re usually made of plastic, acrylic, or porcelain, and they rest on the gums.
Complete dentures and partial dentures are two types of dentures. Full dentures replace all the teeth, while partial dentures replace just some of them. Dentures take some getting used to, but they’re usually very effective at restoring chewing function and improving smile aesthetics. One downside to dentures is that they need to be replaced every five to seven years as your mouth changes shape over time.
Bridges are false teeth that are permanently attached to your teeth—either with crowns or implants—in order to fill a gap created by one or more missing teeth. The difference between bridges and implants is that with a bridge, the false tooth is attached to your natural teeth on either side of the gap. In contrast, the false tooth is attached directly to your jawbone with implants. They’re usually made from ceramic materials that match the color of your existing teeth, so they look natural once in place. Bridges are also very effective at restoring chewing function and improving smile aesthetics, but like dentures, they eventually need to be replaced every five to seven years as your mouth continues to change.
The Bottom Line
There are several options for replacing missing teeth. The best option for you will depend on your individual circumstances. Be sure to do enough research into what is best for your mouth. Also, talk to your dentist about which option is right for you based on their professional opinion. This will help you make the best decision for your smile.