If you’ve lost a single tooth to decay, infection, or structural damage, you may be tempted to think, “Who cares? I have 27 other teeth that work just fine.” But there are three important reasons why you should replace your lost tooth.
If you’ve suffered tooth loss, visit dentist Dr. Ruth Bailey for a tooth replacement consultation. She will examine your mouth, assess your oral health, and help you understand the changes that take place when a tooth is lost. Call our dental office 865-588-1294 to set up an appointment with Dr. Bailey and learn about Knoxville dental bridges.
Reason 1: Drifting Teeth
The first reason why you should replace a missing tooth is because teeth shift. When there is a gap, the surrounding teeth slowly begin to drift into the open space. Those teeth may begin to sit at an angle, which means they will no longer align correctly with your other teeth when you bite down and chew. Over time, it will not just be the teeth next to the gap that are misaligned, but the teeth next to them as well. With an improperly aligned bite, teeth often become more vulnerable to cracking and breaking. Enamel may erode in new places and leave teeth more susceptible to bacteria and decay. Ultimately, a lost tooth can lead to an entire section of the mouth being less stable, and less functional.
Reason 2: The Potential for TMJ Dysfunction
Another reason you should replace your lost tooth promptly is due to the risk of developing temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. If the tooth you lost is a molar, for example, you may soon find that you favor the other side of the mouth when chewing. Over time, this can cause muscle fatigue on one side of the face, and may lead to joint dysfunction in the jaw. TMJ disorder can be triggered by any imbalance in the way the jaw functions, and can lead to painful symptoms, such as over-stressed muscles, pain or popping in the jaw, and chronic headaches.
Reason 3: Missing Teeth Increase Your Risk of Losing More Teeth
Statistically speaking, you are at greater risk of losing more teeth if you do not replace your missing tooth. This is primarily due to the cascade of changes that affect your alignment (reason 1), but it’s a fact of clinical dentistry that’s worth noting. When a missing tooth is promptly replaced, your teeth maintain their proper state of alignment better and stay strong and stable. The longer you wait to replace the missing tooth, the greater your chances that negative changes will take place.
What is a Dental Bridge?
A dental bridge is a fast, affordable, and easy way to replace your missing tooth, with minimal hassle. With careful use, bridges have been known to last as long as 15 years, though the standard lifespan is about 8 years. Speak with Dr. Bailey to learn more about restorative dentistry. She will explain your options for tooth replacement and help you decide whether a bridge is right for you.
Dental bridges are a one-piece prosthetic that resembles a row of three prosthetic teeth. The end pieces are crowns, which are permanently attached to the two teeth immediately adjacent to your missing tooth. The “tooth” in the middle of the bridge is a full prosthetic tooth (pontic) that sits over your gum tissue and provides a natural-looking chewing surface. Dental bridges have a life-like appearance when you smile, and serve an important function in stabilizing your teeth. With a bridge, you need not worry that your alignment will change and affect your bite, since it prevents the teeth from shifting.
What to Expect from a Dental Bridge
Dental bridges are efficient prosthetic teeth, and require very little special maintenance. You can clean and floss around your bridge as usual—with the one exception that you will need to floss below the bridge where your natural tooth used to be. It’s important to floss below the bridge to prevent plaque and bacteria from colonizing the gum tissue underneath it. This is not a great inconvenience for most patients, as there are many convenient flossing tools available to help you accomplish this task. For example, stiff-ended strings of floss, flossing picks, and oral irrigators are all excellent options.
A new dental bridge can usually be provided in approximately two weeks. At the first appointment, your teeth will be treated for the crowns, an impression will be taken, and you will be fitted with a temporary bridge. The temporary bridge is required to protect the treated teeth while your customized bridge is being fabricated in a dental laboratory.
Questions About Tooth Replacement?
Dr. Ruth Bailey wants you to have the best oral health possible. If you have lost a tooth, getting it replaced is not a “luxury,” but simply the quality dental care you deserve. Visit our dental practice to learn more about Knoxville dental bridges for tooth replacement.