Losing a tooth can happen in an instant, due to trauma to the face from a sports injury or a car collision. Sometimes a knocked out tooth can be replaced, but this is not always the case. Other reasons for a missing tooth are more insidious: Decay or gum disease can cause a tooth to become loose and then fall out, leaving a gap.
At Fairfax Family Dentist in Fairfax, Virginia, Dr. Padmaja Yalamanchili often sees patients who are seeking a dentist in the Northern Virginia area for help because of a lost tooth or several missing teeth.
The dangers of missing teeth
Think of your teeth as an arch like a bridge, with each tooth depending on those standing on either side of it for support. When one tooth is lost, the stability of the entire arch is threatened. Teeth on either side of the hole can start to slowly drift into the gap created, and these adjacent teeth may soon also be lost.
This happens because the root of each tooth stimulates the bone in the jaw it’s embedded in, keeping it alive and healthy. Without stimulation, the bone starts to slowly dissolve, and adjacent teeth can start to loosen and fall out, even if they are independently healthy.
Gum disease often hastens this process, weakening the bond between the gums and the teeth and accelerating the progression of bone loss. This domino effect continues with the teeth adjacent to the newly widened gap.
Eventually, a person with a full mouth of healthy teeth can become completely edentulous simply due to the loss of one tooth. Other effects of tooth loss include:
- Aesthetic changes such as sunken teeth and lips that roll inward
- Inability to speak clearly
- Difficulty eating many foods
- Dependency on dentures, which don’t stop bone loss
- Lack of self-esteem due to an imperfect smile
Dr. Yalamanchili works with patients to fill the gaps left by missing teeth, strengthening and beautifying smiles.
Solutions for missing teeth
A quick fix for a missing tooth is a dental bridge. This attaches to teeth on either side of the gap to keep them in position, with a replacement tooth called a pontic situated where the missing tooth used to be. The pontic is fabricated out of strong materials and polished to look exactly like your original tooth.
A bridge can fix the aesthetic and functional problem, but the unstimulated bone under the gap will dissolve over time. If you need a more permanent solution, Dr. Yalamanchili can refer you for a dental implant, and complete the restoration in our office.
A dental implant acts as a tooth root, with a titanium post embedded in the bone of your jaw to provide support for the pontic. If you are missing all of your teeth, just four dental implants can support a full set of dentures.
Tired of missing teeth making your life harder? Call Dr. Yalamanchili at our office at 703-213-5313 or book your appointment online today.