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Why Not Replacing Missing Teeth Is Bad for Your Health

Losing teeth is more common than you might think. In adults aged 35-44, 69% have lost at least one permanent tooth. By the time you reach age 50, the average person has lost 12 teeth (including wisdom teeth). And 26% of adults 65-74 have lost all their teeth.

Missing a tooth means more than just having a space where the tooth once was. It can lead to a host of oral health problems — and even general health problems — making it important that you replace that missing tooth as soon as possible.

Dr. Morita of Morita Dental in Cupertino, California, aims to provide the most comfortable dental experience for his patients while using the most up-to-date technology. This includes crowns, veneers, and dental implants, all important components when dealing with missing teeth.

Why are missing teeth an oral health problem?

Baby teeth are meant to fall out, but adult teeth are supposed to be permanent. Nevertheless, decay from sugary foods and poor oral hygiene habits can eat away at your mouth until the gums can’t support the tooth, and the tooth falls out. You can also lose teeth to injury, such as falling on your face or getting hit with a stick.

Missing teeth cause a number of problems. One of these is the loss of jawbone. Your teeth are rooted in your jawbone, and chewing helps to maintain healthy bone structure. When a tooth falls out, the jawbone loses a major source of support, and it weakens the structure. The bone shrinks, often causing the gums around it to recede. This, in turn, can weaken the teeth on either side of the gap and increase the risk of plaque buildup and additional tooth decay.

Other problems include:

Why are missing teeth a general health problem?

Your oral health is a strong indicator of your overall health, which is another good reason to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Gum or tooth infections can get into the bloodstream, causing problems in other areas of the body. Some issues include:

What options do you have for filling the tooth gap?

If you’re looking to fill that gap in your teeth, you have a number of dental options. Which one you choose generally depends on how many spaces you need to fill.

Dental implants

If you just have one or two spaces, you’ll probably want to go with a dental implant. Though implants have been traced back as far as 600 AD, the modern procedure is only about 30 years old.

The first step in creating the implant in drilling a titanium screw into your jawbone. Over the next six months or so, the screw fuses with the bone, acting like a tooth root. In fact, dental implants are the only restoration option that not only preserves natural bone, but actually helps to stimulate its growth.

Once the screw has fused, the dentist places a crown, attached by an abutment, over the top. It’s shaded to look just like your natural teeth that surround it, so no one will know the difference.

Bridges and partial dentures

If you have more than one missing tooth, your dentist can close — or bridge — the gaps with dental bridges, which are held in place by the teeth on both sides of the space. The procedure involves shaving away part of the adjacent teeth, and the constant rubbing of the bridge can exacerbate that, so their lifetime is only about 7-10 years. Still, they’re made of shaded porcelain, so they look like natural teeth.

It is important to clean your bridge or partial denture as you would your natural teeth, because plaque and bacteria can collect under the bridge material, causing gum problems and leading to the loss of more teeth.

Are you missing teeth and want to know what your options are to maintain good oral and general health? Contact the office of Dr. Morita by phone or by booking your appointment online.

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