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Do you have a missing tooth (or teeth) that need to be replaced? Throughout our lives, teeth can be lost for a variety reasons. They can be lost from tooth decay, periodontal disease, nutritional neglect, and accidents. Missing teeth can compromise your eating habits, speech, health, and appearance. The loss of a front tooth can negatively affect the appearance of your smile, your speech, and your self confidence. Losing a tooth in the back of your mouth can lead to a number of issues affecting your ability to chew, your ability to properly clean your teeth, jaw collapse, teeth shifting, and the health of your remaining teeth. Replacing a lost tooth will prevent further destruction and help save your remaining teeth. Replacing lost teeth can save you time, money, keep you healthier,and prevent many other oral difficulties in the future.

The loss of a single tooth can start a devastating chain reaction of events. After a back molar tooth is lost, a series of destructive events occurs including the displacement and tilting of other teeth around it including a supra eruption (when a tooth continues to grow into the mouth because it is not being kept in place by it’s opposing tooth) of the tooth above it, decay, drifting and formation of periodontal pockets. Eventually, bone loss and periodontal disease, to the teeth surrounding the lost tooth, tend to cause further destruction. If you fail to replace a lost back tooth, you may cause the loss of other teeth.

What Can Happen If Lost Teeth Are Not Replaced?

-Shifting of Teeth - When a tooth is lost, for whatever reason, the surrounding teeth will begin to drift into the open space. This includes both adjacent teeth as well as teeth in the other arch. A once straight smile can quickly turn into a crooked one. Replacing a lost tooth sooner, rather than later, can prevent this from happening As the number of lost teeth increases, the further the damage to the overall eveness of the bite  and, making it harder to replace later on. The altered position of teeth causes the forces to be applied incorrectly while chewing, making fractures and bone loss much more likely. The incorrect forces also cause wear which can result in loss of tooth height and subsequent facial changes.

-Temperomandibular Joint Issues (TMJ Disorder) - As your teeth shift out of their normal alignment, bite issues usually develop. When the upper and lower teeth do not meet properly, it can strain and eventually damge the TMJ. This can lead to head, jaw, and ear pain, headaches, dislocations, clicking and popping, as well as permanent damage to the joint.

-Periodontal Disease - When teeth begin to shift, it makes it that much harder to keep your teeth clean. It will be harder to brush and floss certain areas which have, essentially, created a trap for plaque and food debris to build up. When plaque and bacteria are not removed and allowed to build up the result can be tooth decay and periodontal disease. When teeth shift and drift, they oftentimes create a root exposure problem, and allow forces to move them in unnatural ways. This can loosen teeth, and make them very sensitive. Periodontal disease can lead to further tooth loss.

Options For Replacing Missing Teeth

Patients have multiple options when teeth are lost. They can include fixed ( permanent and not removable) or removable options. These procedures can include:

-Removable Dentures - This option has been the longstanding traditional option when multiple teeth are missing. Removable dentures are often the fastest and least expensive alternative in the short term. There are some disadvantages to removable dentures. Removable dentures work by attaching to exisiting teeth. This often leads to these “anchor” teeth becoming loose, worn, decayed, or broken. There can also be bone loss under the denture, which over time will make the denture more and more mobile and uncomfortable. Removable dentures can also be inconvenient to clean after eating especially if out at a restaurant. Lastly, removable dentures have about 1/3 the chewing power and efficiency of natural teeth. This can lead to poor chewing and lack of good nutrition in one’s diet.

-Fixed Bridge - This entails cutting down surrounding teeth, and fitting them with fused crowns to replace any missing teeth. The most popular type of fixed bridge is called a 3 unit bridge. This means that the two natural teeth adjacent to the missing tooth serve as anchors. This is a very stable option but does also have disadvantages. Disadvantages include:

-Removal of good tooth structure from adjacent teeth.

-Difficulty maintaining good dental hygiene under bridges as normal flossing is not possible

-Long term prognosis of most dental bridges in between 8-10 years before it needs replacing. This is an average. Some bridges can and will last longer.

-Dental Implants – Dental implants are the largest initial investment, but most cost effective long term solution for replacement of missing teeth available today. The main disadvantage to dental implants is the time it takes to be completed. Following placement of the dental implant a 4-6 month healing time is generally needed before the tooth can be restored. Dental implants are the ideal solution for many tooth replacements in dentistry today.

-All on Four Dentures - When many or all  teeth are lost, or if you are rapidly progressing to full mouth breakdown, This dental implant/denture option is an excellent choice. The best thing about this procedure is that you have your entire procedure done and walk out with teeth the same day. There are usually 4 dental implants placed and a titanium bar supported denture placed. It is screwed down, but can be removed if needed. The biggest negatives here are price, and post operative possibility of bruising and discomfort while healing.

Tooth Replacement Conclusion

Tooth loss can happen at any time to anyone. Losing a tooth due to a trauma, disease, habits, etc. can be a big problem for a variety of reasons. If not replaced, they can cause issues for you including bone loss, periodontal disease, and more tooth loss. Replacing lost teeth as soon as possible will save you discomfort and greater expense in the future. Knowing your options, and being informed can help you and your dentist come up with the best treatment options for you. Remember, sooner is better than later, but know that whenever you are ready to move forward with tooth replacements there will always be options!

We all know someone who does not look their age. Whether it be their hair, lack of wrinkles, or just the way they present themselves. They seem to defy time by stayingLas Vegas Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDS active and being young at heart. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who are older than their years. This group is plagued by aging skin, may be prematurely grey or balding or just have something about them that seems aged. We say, that life has taken their toll on this group.

“A smile takes but a moment, but the memory of it lasts forever.”

Did you know we also have a dental age? As we age, our teeth will change as well. They can get darker, crack and thin, become worn down from various activities, become elongated, or shift position from periodontal disease, or we can even suffer from loss of teeth.

Changes To Teeth That Make Us Look Older

-Darkening or Yellowing of Teeth. Our teeth will darken over time just from daily life. This can include foods we eat, smoking, and even our choice of drink. Most people associate youth with a bright, white smile. Having a darkened, yellowing smile can often make you appear less attractive to others and older than you actually are.

-Worn Down Teeth. As we age, we lose some of the enamel on our teeth. As the cusps of our teeth wear down from chewing, teeth grinding, nail biting, as well as other habits. This will lead to your bite collapsing a little at a time. This coincided with our skin losing elasticity over time can create sagging skin and wrinkles around the mouth. Wear also happens with aggressive brushing, high acid foods, and cracking or chipping from brittleness.

-Gum Recession. If we do not maintain proper dental care throughout life we can develop periodontal disease. One of the consequences of periodontal disease is gum Las Vegas Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDStissue recession. This exposes more of our teeth making them appear longer than they actually are. “Long in the tooth”. This is another sign people perceive as something an older person would have.

-Missing Teeth. Although tooth loss can occur at any age, missing teeth makes you appear older. Having a full complement of teeth in your smile is far more attractive than one littered with spaces from missing teeth. Missing teeth cause surrounding teeth to shift, and your bite to lose it’s vertical height. Over-closed teeth make your lower face look collapsed, wrinkled, and old.

-Broken or stained dental work. Over time, both crowns and dental fillings may begin to fail and need to be replaced. This is especially true in the front of the mouth where mismatched colors, stained fillings, and chips in teeth are readily apparent when we smile.

How To Recapture A Youthful Dental Smile?

Modern dentistry has developed quite a few procedures to maintain a youthful attractive smile. These include:

-Teeth Whitening. This is quite possibly the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedure today. It is safe and effective and comes in a few forms. These forms include in office whitening, at home whitening (with dentist provided trays), as well as use of teeth whitening strips, and topical gels. All of these methods are quite effective for most people. It has been proven by research time and again, that people find a whiter smile to be more youthful and attractive.  People tend to feel better about themselves when they are happy with their appearance. Teeth whitening can give patients a dramatic change to their smile with minimal cost and time invested.

-Teeth Contouring. This might be one of the simplest and most cost effective cosmetic dentistry procedures of all. It is usually done without the need for anesthesia and can be as simple as filing down a tooth that appears longer or is slightly out of alignment with the others. Most patients are quite surprised at how such a small adjustment can alter their smile for the better.

-Dental Bonding. While dental bonding is also used to restore teeth damaged by tooth decay it can also be used as a composite veneer to change color or shape, fix chipped teeth, or close small gaps in your smile. Dental bonding is the process in which tooth colored dental materials are bonded to a tooth. This procedure is also a quicker fix and can usually be completed in a single visit. This procedure can easily alter your smile in as little as an hour. A very easy way to make your smile youthful looking again.

-Gum contouring and Gum grafting. Evening out gum levels can help teeth to look more evenly sized and can make short teeth appear longer. Gum grafts can fix areas where gum recession has occurred to make everything appear even and natural again.

-Porcelain Veneers and Porcelain Crowns. Over time our smiles change. Teeth can get worn down, can shift, or maybe you were born with a smile that was not quite perfect. Porcelain veneers and porcelain crowns can be a great way to replace lost tooth structure and alter imperfect teeth creating a more youthful appearance. These Las Vegas Cosmetic Dentist Marielaina Perrone DDScosmetic dentistry procedures tend to require multiple visits but the results will give you a beautiful, youthful smile. Porcelain Veneers are custom made, ultra thin, tooth colored shells that are adhesively bonded to the teeth. This allows the cosmetic dentist to not only alter color of your teeth, but shape and length as well. Porcelain veneers are sometimes called instant orthodontics. This is because porcelain veneers can change the alignment of teeth if the alignment issues are not too extreme. Porcelain crowns can be used on teeth that either already have crowns or need more extensive work (having large restorations or tooth decay). Both porcelain veneers and porcelain crowns can as used in cosmetic dentistry to give the patient a flawless, more youthful and attractive smile.

-Dental ImplantsDental implants allow cosmetic dentists another option in tooth replacement to recreate a youthful, attractive smile. Whether it is a single tooth or a full mouth restoration, dental implants can fill that need. Missing teeth or open spaces has long been considered a sign of old age. Having a full set of white teeth screams youth especially when they are bright, white, and sparkling. When a person is missing a tooth they have several options. There are partial and complete dentures (including the all on 4 dental implants system), traditional bridges, and dental implants. A dental implant can look and feel just like a natural tooth. It is also easier to keep clean than a traditional bridge. Dental implants are placed directly into bone creating a solid foundation for a natural tooth replacement.

-Bite Reclamation. Over time as we age, we tend to lose some height on our teeth. This loss of height of height is also referred to as loss of vertical dimension. Some other factors that cause this loss include acid reflux or teeth grinding (bruxism). Reclaiming a person’s bite utilizing dental implants and porcelain crowns will increase vertical height which will also remove some of the wrinkles around the mouth. These wrinkles develop as our we age and our mouth’s sag from this loss of dimension. Cosmetic dentistry can fix some of this.

-Botox and Dermal Fillers. Long the realm of cosmetic surgeons, dentistry has now added these procedures to give you a more youthful look. In combination with dental work, removing some of those wrinkles on the face and around the mouth specifically will better frame that beautiful, white, youthful smile.

Dental Age Conclusion

Most of us want to stay young as long as possible. We go to the gym, dye our hair, and try to maintain the cosmetics of a youthful smile.  Maintaining healthy teeth and gums can help you to keep feeling young and health. As always, maintain a regular schedule of dental examinations and professional cleanings for a healthy smile that will last a lifetime.