Missing teeth: replace or not? That is a question we get asked almost every day at all of our North Carolina dental office locations. For one reason or another, many of our patients have lost or are going to lose one or more teeth. There are many easy options today for replacing the missing teeth of our patients, but some wonder whether it’s necessary. In most cases, the answer is yes. Replacing these missing teeth is important to help with esthetics, chewing food, speaking, and maintaining the support of the face. Here’s why:
The most common reason people mention wanting to replace a missing tooth is to keep from showing it when they smile. Having a nice smile helps us present a positive image to the people around us.
A study was done that placed pictures of smiles in front of subjects and they were asked to write down the first thing that came to mind when they saw the picture.
Pictures of smiles with one or more missing teeth elicited words such as, “uneducated,” “sick,” “dirty,” “redneck,” and “poor.” Nice smiles elicited much more favorable words such as, “friendly,” “pretty,” and “happy.” While it’s not fair, people will judge based on your smile. Replacing missing teeth, especially in the smile zone, is very important to your interactions with those around you.
The other main reason to replace missing teeth is to aid in chewing food. Gaps in teeth decrease your chewing efficiency, causing some unchewed food to be swallowed. That may cause digestion problems, deficiencies in nutrient absorption, or bowel discomfort.
Another reason for replacing a missing tooth is to make sure you can speak more clearly. We use our tongues, lips, cheeks, and teeth to force air to make sounds that others understand as words. Having missing teeth creates gaps in the surfaces that we use to create these sounds and makes our words sound different than normal. This commonly causes lisps and words that are not as crisp. The gaps make our speech harder to understand. Replace a missing tooth to recreate the surfaces that are used to properly form words, making our speech easier to understand, which helps us communicate more efficiently.
Finally, the structure of the face is supported, in part, by the teeth and the bones of the jaw. Loss of teeth, especially multiple teeth, can lead to sunken in areas of the face around the cheeks. This typically makes a person look much older.
Obviously, the best solution is to maintain the teeth so that they are not lost in the first place. But with modern dental technology, even if a tooth is lost, there are several options for replacing it with something that is aesthetic, functional, and comfortable.
Contact one of our Locations today to schedule your appointment!!
Written By: Michael S. Watson, DDS