It is a bad day when you are told a tooth needs to be removed, for whatever reason. The next question is often do I need to put something in its place? This series of blog posts will cover when you should replace a missing tooth and what the options are if the tooth needs to be replaced.
No. You do not have to replace a missing tooth. People are able to survive with no teeth, but should you replace that missing, or soon to be missing tooth?
Maybe. The answer to this question is a bit more complicated, because some teeth are more important than others, and studies have shown that people are able to adapt fairly well when missing certain teeth, or up to a certain number of teeth. However once you get past that point your quality of life does diminish. It is also a very personal question as some people have very few concerns despite missing a large number of teeth, while for others the loss of just one or two teeth can be quite traumatic and debilitating. As dentists we want all out patients to have as healthy a mouth as possible, but this does not necessarily mean trying to save or replace every tooth.
So what are the guidelines?
You should replace a missing tooth if:
It causes an aesthetic concern
. If the gap where a tooth was is visible and that gap makes you self conscious, then that tooth should be replaced. it does not necessarily have to be a front tooth as many teeth on the side are visible when you talk. The issue is whether you feel self conscious about it, and that is a personal question for each person.
It causes a functional concern
This means that removing the tooth will make it harder for you to eat. Again this is a personal question as some people are able to adapt fairly well despite losing a relatively large number of teeth, while others find it difficult to manage certain foods after losing just one or two. As a general rule of thumb most people can cope with losing one, maybe two teeth from each side of their mouth, but any more than this means that they need to change the way they eat which can cause stress to the remaining teeth and jaw, and can limit what foods you eat. Also many people have a natural chewing side, so while they may adapt really well to a missing tooth on one side, it is a much bigger problem on the other.
It may lead to movement of teeth which can cause functional or aesthetic concerns
Teeth are not fixed in the bone, they can and do move. So after a tooth is removed the surrounding teeth, can and usually do move. This is not always a problem, but the movement of teeth can lead to changes in your bite which can cause tooth and joint pain. It may also lead to uneven wear which is often an aesthetic concern.
If the tooth you need removed doesn’t cause any of these problems, then fantastic, but if it does then:
When should I have the tooth replaced?
Generally speaking it is better to replace a tooth sooner rather than later as there are changes that occur in the gums and bone after the tooth is loss. The timing of replacing the tooth can vary depending on the exact situation, so talking to your dentist either before the tooth is removed or when the tooth is being removed is ideal .
If the tooth or teeth were lost a long time, it does not mean they can’t be replaced, but it can be more complicated. Dr Martin Cahill and Steve Pearson both have a particular interest in helping people who have lost many teeth regain their smiles and their ability to eat comfortably.
What is the best option to replace my tooth?
There is no one ideal option. What is best may vary from person to person depending on
- Which tooth or teeth were lost
- How long ago they were lost
- Your health
- Your age
- How many teeth are missing and where they are in relation to the other teeth
- the condition of your other teeth
But broadly speaking whenever someone loses a tooth there are four options:
- Do Nothing (leave a space)
I will cover each of these options in more detail in future Posts.
If you would like to see examples of our work replacing missing teeth you can view these here.
To book an appointment to discuss in more detail please call on 4942 3272 or see above to book online