Why Replacing Missing Teeth is About More Than Just Aesthetics

There’s little doubt that replacing missing teeth can do a lot for the cosmetic appeal of your smile. But did you know that replacing missing teeth also helps keep your jaw and mouth healthy and may even prevent early signs of aging?

The dentists from Wellness Dental, with locations in Mesa, Chandler, Phoenix, and Peoria, Arizona, explain why replacing your missing teeth is as important to your oral health as it is to your fabulous smile and youthful appearance.

Missing teeth and your facial structure

A missing tooth or teeth can make it hard to smile with confidence. And you may be tempted to consider a missing front tooth of higher priority than an absent molar due to purely cosmetic reasons. However, ignoring missing molars can also cause dramatic cosmetic issues -- they just take a little longer to appear.

Your teeth play a significant role in the structure and appearance of your face and help maintain its overall length and shape. Without support from your molars, your jaw gradually shrinks in size. Over time, this can greatly affect your jaw alignment and cause your cheeks and other soft tissue structures of your face to sag and droop. All these changes can make you appear much older than your actual age.

Missing teeth and your oral health

When healthy and properly aligned, your teeth are tightly connected to your jaw and help keep one another in place. An empty tooth socket can cause your surrounding teeth to shift out of position due to the gap left by the missing tooth. Over time, this misalignment can affect the appearance of your smile as well as the health of your gums.

Your gums ordinarily fit snuggly against your teeth and help prevent bacteria from finding its way into the root system that connects your teeth to your jaw. When your teeth shift out of alignment, it creates pockets in your gums that make it easier for decay-causing bacteria to multiply and infect the underlying bone structure, which can result in periodontal disease.

Missing teeth can also cause deterioration of the bony tissue in your jaw. Your body replaces and rebuilds bone tissue throughout your life with a process called remodeling. It also removes old or unused bone tissue by resorption. Healthy adult teeth are embedded in your jaw, and activities such as chewing and biting promote the ongoing development of new bone tissue that keeps them anchored in your jaw.  

When a tooth is missing, the stimulation necessary for bone remodeling doesn’t occur and your body essentially breaks down and resorbs the bone that isn’t being used. It’s an efficient process but can also weaken surrounding teeth -- and may even cause changes in your facial structure.

Missing teeth and your overall health

Missing teeth can make it difficult to chew those crunchy, healthy foods your body craves for optimal health. Soft, overly-processed foods often lack the vitamins and minerals their uncooked counterparts contain. For instance, even nutrient-sparing cooking methods such as steaming or microwaving can remove 15-30% of the vitamin C found in fresh broccoli.

Many people also find the softer texture of cooked vegetables and other foods unappealing. And if your taste buds are ready for a lovely steak, crackers spread with cheese, or a slice of crusty bread, missing teeth can make those treats impossible to enjoy.

Missing teeth can also affect your psychological health and well-being by decreasing your self-confidence. While a missing tooth doesn’t alter your true value or worth, you may find it difficult to smile or engage in conversation because of gaps in your teeth.

Your teeth are also vital for speech. Missing teeth can make it difficult to speak clearly or pronounce words correctly. This may prevent you from enjoying many social activities. When you prefer to keep your smile and your thoughts to yourself because of missing teeth, it can also stall your work relationships and career goals.

Teeth replacement options

Fortunately, many choices exist for replacing missing teeth that you can rely on to look natural and feel comfortable in your mouth -- including single dental implants, partial bridges, or full dentures.

Dental implants are likely the most cosmetically-appealing replacements, and you’ll never have to remove them for cleaning or eating your favorite foods. Modern dentures are much more natural-appearing than those your grandmother wore and remain a viable option for many of our patients. We can even provide implant-anchored dentures for increased comfort and improved stability.

At Wellness Dental, we love the appearance and comfort of dental implants, but also work closely with you to provide replacement teeth that fit your preference, budget, and lifestyle. Whether you need just one or a full set of replacement teeth, we’re here to help restore your smile and oral health.

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