Losing one or more teeth can be a tragic experience for some people. For others, it may seem inconsequential, perhaps even slightly humorous. Pride and confidence in one’s smile plays a role in both reactions; while one person may be so proud of their smile that the loss of a tooth can generate feelings of insecurity, another may be so self-confident that losing a mere tooth does not affect their self-esteem. Your body, however, has a few reactions of its own to tooth loss, and no amount of pride or confidence can directly affect them. Livonia dentist Dr. James Stewart explains the devastation that tooth loss can wreak on your oral health, and how dental implants can help halt the destruction.
The Visible Effects of Tooth Loss
The most obvious result of tooth loss is the noticeable gap left between the remaining adjacent teeth. As testament to the complexities of the human body, your normally-stationary teeth will begin to shift to try and take up the slack left by their fallen brethren. This shifting can throw off the natural balance of your bite (occlusion) and lead to many other oral health issues, including bruxism and TMJ disorder. Traditional tooth replacements, including bridges, partials, and full dentures, are designed to fill the empty space to prevent your remaining teeth from shifting to take up the slack. These solutions, however, do not address the second, and perhaps more damaging, result of tooth loss.
The Hidden Effects of Tooth Loss
Bridges and dentures replace the visual part of your tooth, but a natural human tooth consists of two main parts, one of which you do not see, but plays an important role in your continued good oral health. The crown, or top, part of the tooth is what everyone sees when you smile. The root of a tooth extends down through your gums and is embedded into your jawbone. Chewing stimulates your jaw and tooth roots, signaling the body that nutrients are required to support the tooth. When a tooth is loss, the root is also, and the lack of stimulation causes the body to reduce the amount of nutrients sent to your jaw. The decreased support means your jaw eventually grows too weak to support the remaining teeth, resulting in further tooth loss and jawbone deterioration.
Dental Implants Replace the Entire Tooth
A dental implant is a small rod or screw that is surgically placed in your jawbone, where your tooth used to be. The implant is made of biocompatible titanium, which your jawbone fuses to (osseointegration) and your body accepts as real. Once the implant heals, Dr. Stewart can use it to anchor an implant supported dental prosthetic, such as a bridge or dentures. With a dental implant, your entire tooth structure is replaced, halting the damaging effects of tooth loss.
To learn more about protecting or preserving your oral health, schedule your appointment with Dr. Stewart today by contacting your Livonia Dental Office at (734)425-4400. We gladly serve patients from Livonia and the surrounding 48151 area, including Farmington Hills, Farmington, Plymouth, Northville, Novi, Dearborn Heights, and Dearborn.