GlobalDentalPro: What are the causes of tooth loss?
Dr Ajay Jain: Losing teeth is not only restricted to toddlers, adults can lose teeth as well. Losing milk teeth is normal. But losing your permanent teeth is not. Even losing your teeth as you grow old, is no more considered inevitable. Tooth loss causes various consequences – the quality of life is reduced because of decreased chewing ability which limits your food choices. This could cause poor nutrition which affects your general health. It also leads to a sagging appearance of the face, impaired speech etc. There are many reasons of teeth loss like bad oral hygiene, irregular dental check-ups, not getting teeth with caries treated, poor nutrition, trauma, tooth grinding (bruxism), not replacing lost teeth, not correcting malocclusions (improper position of teeth), smoking and drinking alcohol, periodontitis (gum disease).
GlobalDentalPro: What are the consequences of tooth loss?
Dr Ajay Jain: Some of the consequences include:
Effect on the Jaw Bone: This close relationship between the tooth and the bone continues throughout life. When a tooth is lost, the lack of stimulation to the surrounding bone results in a decrease in the density and dimensions of the bone. This means that there is a loss of width and height of the bone.
Effect on Soft Tissue: As bone continues to lose width and height, the gum tissues gradually decrease. A very thin gum usually lies over the advanced bone loss of the lower jaw. The gum is prone to sore spots caused by the overlaying denture.
Effects of Bone Loss on Facial Appearance: Facial changes naturally occur in relation to the aging process. When the teeth are lost, this process is grossly accelerated with more rapid facial aging. The loss of teeth can add 10 or more years to a person’s face. A decrease in face height occurs as a result of the collapse of bone height when teeth are lost.
Health Effects of Tooth Loss: There is reduced consumption of high fiber foods and therefore induce stomach or intestinal problems in patients without teeth with deficient chewing performance. In addition, as the coarser food is chewed it may impair proper digestive and nutrient extraction functions.
Psychological aspects of tooth loss: The psychological effects of total tooth loss are complex and varied, and range from very minimal to a state of anxiety.
Decreased performance of removable dentures: The difference in maximum bite forces recorded in a person with natural teeth and one who is completely without teeth is dramatic. In the first molar region of a person with teeth, the average force has been measured at 150 to 250 pounds per square inch (psi). A patient who grinds or clenches the teeth may exert a force that approaches 1,000 psi since their muscles get stronger with the increase in exercise. The maximum bite force in the patient without teeth is reduced to less than 50 psi, since they now must chew on the softer gums.
GlobalDentalPro: What are the various treatment options available to replace missing tooth/teeth?
Dr Ajay Jain: If you are a missing one or more teeth, you may be all too aware of their importance to your looks and dental health. Following are three options your dentist may suggest, depending on your needs. Replacement teeth should last for years at a time, so it is important to choose a treatment that’s right for you.
Dental implants: A dental implant is a titanium post (like a tooth root) that is surgically positioned into the jawbone beneath the gum line that allows your dentist to mount replacement teeth or a bridge into that area. An implant doesn't come loose like a denture can. An implant is surgically placed in an opening that your dentist makes in the jawbone. After the implant integrates (attaches) to your bone, it acts as a new "root" for the crown that will replace your missing tooth. Dental implants are expensive. Though the cost of implants varies based on location and dental provider, a single tooth averages about $2,500. With each tooth, patients often need an abutment (which connects the implant to the crown) and crown, bringing the total cost to about $4,000 for a single tooth.
Fixed partial denture (dental bridge): A bridge or a fixed partial denture — a device used to replace missing teeth — attaches artificial teeth to adjacent natural teeth, called abutment teeth. Bridges are either permanently attached (fixed bridges), or they can be removable. A crown is used to entirely cover or "cap" a damaged tooth.
Removable partial dentures: A removable partial denture usually consists of replacement teeth attached to a pink or gum-colored plastic base, which is sometimes connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place in the mouth. Partial dentures are used when one or more natural teeth remain in the upper or lower jaw.
Traditional, tooth-supported dental bridges only last five to seven years, and with proper care often more than 10 years, but at some point they may need to be replaced. While dental implants may need periodic adjustments, they can last a lifetime when properly placed and cared for over time.
Dr Ajay Jain is a qualified Maxillofacial Prosthodontist with the following qualifications: BDS, MDS (Prosthodontics), AIMPT (Glasgow, UK), FPFA (USA), MISMR (USA), MIPS (India), MAP (Malaysia).
Have any questions, feel free to ask us in the comment section below? To make an appointment with a dentist, just visit GetDoc
by Tommy Wong
A full-time Dental Student passionate to make a dent in the World of Dentistry. All through my dentistry journey, I have realised that there is still a lack of Oral Health Education to the public globally. This leads to high prevalence of Oral Diseases among the human population. With this mission, we have established GlobalDentalPro – Your Oral Health Educator with the mission to promote Oral Health globally to enable people to increase control over, and to improve their Oral Health & thus General Health. View all articles by Tommy Wong.