Leaving a gap in your teeth might be the ‘easy’ option, but is it the best one?
None of us want to lose any of our teeth if we can possibly help it. Taking care of what we eat, and making sure that we brush and floss our teeth regularly will help to give us the best chance of avoiding this.
If you make sure too, to see one of our Clapham dentists every six months or so, any problems that we do find can be treated early, potentially saving the tooth.
Life doesn’t always work that way though, and even with the best will in the world, accidents can happen which result in a knocked out tooth. If we don’t look after our teeth and avoid visiting the dentist, the chances of losing a tooth to decay also increases.
To replace or not?
If you lose a tooth you are, by default, left with a gap between the teeth. Where this is highly visible, the chances are that you will consider the various options to replace it; usually a denture, bridge or implant. Where the tooth is less visible though, such as a rear tooth, it might be tempting just to leave the gap.
If you do decide not to replace a missing tooth, a number of things can happen.
Increases stress on other teeth
When you lose a tooth whose primary purpose is for chewing and breaking down food, additional stress is passed to the other teeth that are still present. Lose too many teeth and the chances of damage and wear to the remaining teeth increases.
If you lose a tooth or two one one side of your mouth, you will almost certainly switch to chewing on the other side. Using just one side of your mouth to chew may well result in an increased workload for the jaw in that particular area, and jaw problems can follow eventually.
Whether the gap between your teeth is visible or not, the space left provides an area into which the surrounding teeth will gradually encroach. Each movement by a tooth then creates a new space and more movement with the adjacent teeth. Although this will not happen instantly, you are likely to find that your teeth become crooked over time, and whether you eventually replace the tooth or not, you may find yourself needing to consider one of the dental braces that we provide at the Confidental Clinic in Clapham.
Although you may not notice it, once a tooth has been lost, the bone which held it securely in place no longer has a role to fulfil. The body, being the wonderful thing that it is, will then reabsorb the components of the bone in that area, for use in another part of the body. Over time, this bone loss not only potentially facilitates movement of the other teeth, but can also lead to facial shape changes, making you look older than your actual years.
Ultimately, if you lose a tooth, it is your choice if you replace it or not. As you can see, there are very good reasons for doing so. Should you choose to do so, our dental team are always happy to offer impartial advice so that you can make an informed decision.
Briefly, and we will discuss these in more detail during a consultation, these are the options available.
Leave the gap – As you can see, this is something that we don’t recommend. The choice, however, is yours.
Dentures – These offer a good aesthetic solution, especially as dentures are now more natural looking than may have been the case in the past. Some people do find dentures inconvenient though, especially for cleaning. Some also find them to be less stable than is desirable.
A bridge – This offers a more secure solution than dentures but is not without its drawbacks. To secure the artificial tooth, crowns have to be attached to the teeth adjacent to the gap. This requires healthy teeth to be shaped, and many people are understandably reluctant to have this done.
Dental implants – This, in our opinion, offers the best solution. Although it does require dental surgery, it is a one time procedure that replaces not only the visible part of the missing tooth, but also provides an artificial root too. This not only provides excellent stability but also prevents the bone loss that occurs with other tooth replacement options. You will need to keep the implant clean, but you can, essentially, treat it the same as a natural tooth for all purposes, whether cleaning or eating any food you desire.
If you have lost a tooth and are wondering whether to replace it or not, why not have a chat with one of our friendly Clapham dental team before making a decision? You can book an appointment to do so by calling the Confidental Clinic on 020 7801 9060. We are always pleased to offer impartial advice.