Regardless of age, many people are missing one or more of their natural teeth. Here is an outline of the health risks posed by missing teeth and the realistic and affordable solutions – including a partial denture – that are available to solve the problem.
Risks posed by missing teeth
Changes to your bite
When teeth are lost or removed, your remaining teeth will naturally shift and move to fill the gap over time if they are allowed to do so. This change in the positioning of your teeth can affect the way your teeth come together or bite, a phenomenon called malocclusion.
If left untreated, malocclusion can place undue stress on the joint that controls jaw function – your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This can lead to serious and potentially long-term problems such as headaches, earaches, clicking or popping sounds, or difficulty moving your jaw.
If you are missing teeth, you may find that eating is difficult because your biting and chewing function is compromised.
Chewing is the first step in the digestion process. In the short term, improper chewing can lead to foods that are difficult to digest, causing indigestion, constipation, or nausea. If allowed to continue over a longer time, deficient chewing can prevent the body from absorbing nutrients from foods that aren’t properly chewed, leading to nutrient deficiency.
Increased chewing forces
Missing teeth mean fewer teeth to distribute your natural chewing force or “load.” The increased chewing load on your remaining natural teeth can lead to trauma and promote quicker loss of those teeth.
Gaps in your smile
Some people have missing posterior teeth. These “back” teeth may not be easily seen when speaking, eating, laughing, or smiling.
When it’s an anterior or “front” tooth, the missing tooth can be highly noticeable. Some people notice a lisp or other changes to speech patterns. Others avoid eating certain foods (or eating at all) in social situations. Many people try to hide the missing tooth by hiding their smile. There are a wide variety of personal, social, and even employment barriers when you have a visible gap in your smile.
Options to replace missing teeth
These problems can be addressed by filling in the gap between your natural teeth. Methods to replace missing teeth include dental implants, implant-supported crowns, bridges, and partial dentures (conventional or implant-supported).
A partial denture is an appliance that replaces missing teeth when some natural teeth remain. A partial denture will maintain spaces and locations of existing dentition and ensure the normal function of your natural teeth and any existing dental or denture work. This will restore chewing efficiency, maximize your nutrition, and enhance your facial aesthetics.
Unsure which option to replace missing teeth is right for you? Schedule a consultation appointment with a denturist to discuss your situation and needs.