Losing a tooth can be traumatic for a number of reasons, from the effect it has on your ability to do simple things like eat and speak, to the changes it can cause to your facial aesthetic and structure. Even a single missing tooth left untreated for a couple of years, can bring about changes to your oral health and hygiene. Meanwhile, several missing teeth can greatly increase your chances of developing more serious health problems, extending beyond that which are only to do with your smile. Let’s take a look at the different ways tooth loss can impact your life.
Chewing and speaking
Chewing and speaking (two actions we can often take for granted) can turn into a daily challenge, thanks to tooth loss. In cases where a person has lost multiple teeth, tougher foods become a no-go as it’s impossible to break them down to swallow, limiting the enjoyment of food in general. But it isn’t just the inconvenience of not being able to enjoy the foods you love that tooth loss eradicates. As you’re less able to break foods down effectively, problems like acid reflux can occur and digestion can become impaired, as you’re swallowing food that ought to be broken down into smaller, more manageable pieces for your body to cope with.
Teeth are also essential for maintaining the quality of your speech. Multiple missing teeth will harm your capacity to articulate certain sounds and words and in turn, this has the potential to leave you feeling embarrassed and low in confidence.
Increased chances of gum disease
Even a single gap in your teeth can increase your chances of developing gum disease and risk the need for complex treatment later in life, if it’s left untreated. When you lose a tooth, the vacant gum area becomes exposed to bacteria and debris and neighbouring teeth can begin to drift towards the gap. This becomes problematic as larger gaps are created among your teeth, giving a home to food particles and bacteria, which can then convert to tenacious staining, like plaque.
In protecting areas of exposed gum where a tooth is absent; with a dental implant, bridge or dentures, you can reduce your susceptibility to plaque and increase your chances of retaining your natural teeth for as long as possible. Here at Cliftonville Dental we place particular emphasis on preventative dentistry and will always advise patients on how best to care for their teeth during routine dentist and hygienist appointments, as this reduces the chances of tooth loss in the future.
Thankfully, links between mental and physical health are being explored more than ever before and when it comes to our smiles, there’s a definite connection between lack of pride and poor wellbeing. It’s widely known that low self-esteem affects our overall happiness and when we’re unhappy with our smiles, we’re less likely to smile. This causes complications with your brain’s ability to create endorphins, the chemicals responsible for wellbeing; because you’re less likely to smile if you don’t like your smile, you’re indirectly affecting your brain’s ability to cheer itself up. In seeking to replace missing teeth, not only are you improving your dental health and hygiene, you’re giving yourself some emotional TLC.
Research has found that people suffering from mental health issues are more likely to neglect their dental and oral hygiene and therefore, placing themselves at higher risk of tooth loss.
Changes to facial structure and facial collapse
One of the consequences of long term tooth loss, that’s less well known, is the effect it has on your facial structure. In some cases (generally chronic situations) tooth loss causes the face to appear sunken and without structure – this is a process known as resorption.
Your teeth and jawbone work to support each other; the former are constantly at work, making tiny connections throughout the day, keeping them stimulated, whilst the latter acts as a home for teeth. When you sustain a missing tooth, the alveolar bone (the part of the jawbone responsible for anchoring the teeth into the mouth) lacks support and begins to shrink, as it becomes redundant.
Unfortunately, dentures will not keep resorption at bay because they’re a removable treatment. Many patients with dentures choose to convert to implants or implant-supported dentures, to tackle the issue of resorption and rejuvenate their facial structure. There are many fantastic things about implants, but one of their most outstanding features is they’re able to trick your body into thinking it’s housing a brand new tooth root and in turn, the resorption process is kept at bay.
Whilst tooth loss alone won’t increase your chances of developing heart-related health problems, periodontitis will. As we’ve already mentioned above, tooth loss renders you more vulnerable to gum disease; when left unaddressed, a more advanced form of gum disease manifests, known as periodontitis. Research from the University of Pennsylvania has exposed a link between inflammation that precedes heart attacks and gum disease, though studies are still ongoing. It’s thought that if a person also has high cholesterol or atherosclerosis (a condition where plaque builds in the arteries), the risk is even greater.
After treatment for tooth loss, you should attend bi-annual hygienist appointments, to reduce your chances of developing gum disease and consequently, heart complications.
Here at Cliftonville Dental, we can offer both single dental implants and All-on-4 dental implants as permanent, fixed options for tooth loss. We offer a range of finance options to help you spread the cost of your treatment.. Contact our friendly team to book a consultation appointment and start your journey to a healthier smile.