Missing Teeth

Let’s start off with the facts. Missing teeth is much more common than you think! Missing teeth in adults can be caused by a multitude of reasons, namely periodontal disease, congenital absence, genetics, trauma to the mouth, issues with diet, etc. At Spokane Dental, we always want to let our patients know there’s nothing to be ashamed of, and to not let that fear prevent you from coming to see us for a solution. The fact of the matter is that missing teeth in adults is relatively common, but it is important to your overall health to treat it. Let’s dive in a little deeper.

Why Do I Need to Treat My Tooth Loss?

There are a multitude of ways to treat and replace missing teeth, but choosing no replacement is not one of them. Here’s why:

TMJ Problems- Temporomandibular joints, or TMJ, are the muscles on the side of your face that you can feel moving when you chew or move your jaw, and they’re pretty important. If you lose a tooth and don’t have it replaced, the changes to the muscles and how they are all connected can inevitably lead to TMJ disorder, and a whole lot of pain.

Facial Changes- When you lose a tooth and do not have it replaced, it causes your jawbone to deteriorate over time which then leads to your facial muscles drooping. The American Dental Association emphasizes that even the loss of a tooth in the back of your mouth can cause these issues, making you look older or dramatically change the appearance of your face.

Shifting Teeth- When you have all of your teeth, they create almost a support system for one another, they keep each other stable and in a line. If a tooth is removed from that line up, the system breaks down and your risk for teeth shifting greatly increases. When your teeth shift or drift out of place, it can affect how you chew and increases your risk of potential gum disease and tooth decay.

Mental Health- The effect missing teeth has on one’s physical and dental health is greatly important, but it’s just as important how it can affect someone’s mental health. Like we mentioned, missing teeth is a common issue, but it can cause difficulty chewing, eating, and speaking, not to mention a change in your appearance. All of which can take a hit to your self-confidence and overall mental health.

Solutions for Missing Teeth

Our team at Spokane Dental has years of knowledge and experience in replacing missing teeth. Our dentist will take a look at your mouth and evaluate what solution is best for you. Some of the most common solutions for missing teeth include dental implants, bridges, and removable prosthetics.

Dental Implants

A dental implant is a small post, typically made of titanium, that acts as a substitute for the root of the tooth. A connector, which is called an abutment, is placed on or built into the top of the dental implant, which is how it connects to the replacement tooth. The last step involves a crown, a replacement tooth, that is custom fabricated to match your natural teeth, completing the dental implant. (American Academy of Implant Dentistry, 2023)

The implants we use at Spokane Dental are great for people suffering from tooth loss as they are stable, functional, and look and feel like your own, natural teeth. The dental implants are fused with the bone and can therefore last a lifetime with good care. Additionally, the process for dental implants does not require us to alter any of the surrounding teeth which is great for your long-term oral health. Individual implants also improve oral hygiene because they make it easier to access in between the teeth for cleaning.

Immediate Load Implants

Typically, patients have to wait months after tooth loss while the gums and bones settle to get an implant. However, there are certain cases where immediate load implants can be a better option than delayed implants. Depending on your bone density, shape of your gums and the shape of your bite, immediate implants are great if you’re missing all of your teeth. This is something we will help weigh the pros and cons of to determine which is the best decision for you.

If a patient’s jawbone is too weak to hold an implant, it is likely that a bone graft will be necessary. The process for a bone graft implant procedure depends on what kind of graft is needed. If only a minor graft is required, it’s not uncommon for it to be done at the same time as the implant. If a more severe graft is needed, special grafting material is put into the jawbone, and new bone that is strong enough to secure an implant is created over several months.

Bridges (Fixed Prosthetics)

When one tooth is missing, a bridge is typically used to fill the space. The two teeth on either side of the missing tooth are prepped with retainer crowns and are then fused to a third crown that replaces the missing tooth, called a pontic. For this process, the three crowns need to be formed together as one at a dental lab, and therefore you will need to wear a temporary bridge for at least two weeks. Once the permanent bridge is complete, you return back to our office to have the new bridge cemented on!

Dentures (Removable Prosthetics)

Dentures and partial dentures are another option as a solution for missing teeth and are removable artificial teeth in a base made of either plastic or a combination of plastic and metal, that sits directly on the gums. Whether a denture is a complete or partial depends on the amount of natural teeth an individual has left. If there are natural teeth left, the framework of the partial dentures is attached to those teeth. It’s becoming more and more common for both partial and full dentures to be seated on implants to give them additional stability and functionality.

Replace Your Missing Teeth at Spokane Dental

If you have missing teeth and are looking for treatment, our team at Spokane Dental is here to help. We want to give you your confidence and health back and give you the smile you deserve. Give us a call or schedule an appointment today!