Many adults at one time or another will lose a tooth. Many people, whether due to neglect, trauma, or just old age, will lose many or all of their teeth. Missing teeth can have a significant impact not only on one’s appearance, but also on self confidence and overall health.
Missing teeth can have a dramatic impact on a person’s appearance. People with bad or missing teeth often avoid smiling, and try to cover their mouths when they do smile. They often avoid social or business situations because they are embarrassed about their teeth. Many miss out on important activities and other life experiences because of their bad teeth, their missing teeth, or their ill fitting dentures.
Beyond appearance, missing teeth can have a significant impact on a person’s self confidence. People with missing teeth often express a feeling of loss: that they have lost their youthfulness, or their sex appeal, or their ability to speak in public, or to be active. It is only after their teeth are lost that many people realize that a healthy mouth is necessary for maintaining a good quality of life.
Dentures can help restore a “smile”, but can fall short on addressing the overall issue of confidence. Dentures often slip, and can even fall out during activities, or when eating. Dentures may address the cosmetic problems caused by missing teeth, but often don’t solve the functional problems that result in lower self confidence and quality of life.
Teeth provide more functions than just the ability to chew. They are necessary for the health of the gums, jaw, and other teeth, as well. The effects of missing teeth can be detrimental to long-term oral and medical health.
An off-bite relationship: Having gaps where teeth are missing affects the way the jaw closes. For example, an opposing tooth will tilt or drift into an open space left by a missing tooth (teeth) causing the opposing jaw line to have bite-relationship problems. TMJ (acute and chronic pain and problems with the jaw joint) may be caused by unattended tooth loss. In addition, food can become trapped in open spaces, increasing the risk of decay and gum disease.
Jawbone deterioration: As soon as a tooth is lost from gum disease or an extraction, the supporting bone in the jaw begins to dissolve. This process is called resorption. The longer a tooth is missing, the greater the bone loss. Over time, more and more of the jawbone disintegrates until it becomes weak and noticeably smaller.
Nutrition: As teeth are lost, it becomes more difficult to eat and chew food. Studies have shown that 29% of denture wearers eat only soft or mashed foods and 50% avoid many foods altogether.
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