Why Do You Have Missing Teeth?
Tooth decay, gum disease, traumatic injury to teeth and cracked teeth, are the most common causes of missing teeth.
Reasons for Missing Teeth
Tooth decay is an infection of the teeth caused acid produced by the bacteria in our mouth.
This acid will slowly dissolve the mineral from the hardened tooth structure, progressively weaken it and leading to larger and larger holes or cavities.
If these holes are not repaired early and allowed to enlarge over time, the destruction can be so severe that the teeth cannot be saved and had to be extracted.
Tooth decay is common in a children and adult who likes a high sugar diet either in food or drink.
Gum disease is also an infection caused by the bacteria in our mouth that lead to the gradual destruction of the supporting gum and bone of the teeth.
The teeth will gradually become loosen, move out of the normal position and become painful upon chewing.
Frequently, these shaky teeth become too loose or painful for chewing and thus had to be removed by the dentist.
Gum disease is a major cause of tooth loss in adult and will become the dominant reason why we lose our teeth as our population ages.
Gum disease is also associated with diabetes and heart diseases.
Both tooth decay and gum diseases are highly preventable with practice of good oral hygiene, regular preventive visit and early detection at the dental clinic.
Developing a positive attitude towards your own oral health is very important and to make it a priority in your busy life.
Change your mind-set about your visit to the dentists, see them as healthcare partners that will save your teeth and preserve your teeth instead of someone who causes pain and remove your teeth.
Traumatic injury to the mouth area may knocks out or fracture the teeth to such an extent that they cannot be saved. If the injury is more severe and affects the gum or jawbone, it may result in tooth loss too.
Injuries may occur while participating in sports, road traffic accidents or other type of accident like a fall are a common causes of tooth loss.
With the increase usage and popularity of PMD (Personal Mobility Devices) and shared bicycle businesses in Singapore, more injuries to the face and dental areas are expected.
A Sports Mouth Guard can be worn during contact games and wear helmet with chin while riding any vehicle to prevent injuries.
Cracked teeth occurred when structurally weakened teeth with existing decay or large fillings fracture during chewing or against hard food.
Even normal teeth when bitten on something very hard accidentally, like a grain of sand in our food, can result in cracked teeth. Intentional abuse of teeth, which is a dangerous and bad habit, like chewing on ice, bones or biting on your favourite chilli crab’s shell may lead to fractured teeth too.
Another common cause of cracked teeth is the result of our increased emotional stress in our hectic daily lives. This psychological stress lead to prolonged clenching of our jaw and the teeth bear the tremendous physical stress against each other.
Another form is called bruxism or grinding of teeth during our sleep as the result of increased neurological activities and stress. The teeth are being meshed together under violent pressure without any form of restraint as the sleeping brain has loss it protective mechanism.
Such prolonged grinding of teeth will lead to severe tooth wear and eventual cracked teeth with resultant loss of teeth.
Less common causes of missing teeth are some people have congenitally missing teeth, which means they were born without certain teeth.
This condition is often hereditary, and the most common teeth that are missing are the wisdom teeth, second premolars and upper lateral incisors. The number of missing teeth ranges from one to more than four or more. Multiple missing teeth may also be the result of an inherited disorder.
Children who visit a dentist when they are very young have a better chance of having these issues treated early, so the dentist can plan ahead to deal with the problem of having too few teeth in the future.
Another common cause of “missing teeth” in the mouth is that the tooth did not appear in the mouth despite of its presence in the jaw.
These un-erupted or buried teeth inside the jaw is usually the result of lack of space as the erupting tooth’s path has been blocked by another tooth due to crowding of the dental arch or facing the wrong direction inside the jaw.
A visit to the dentist can detect signs and symptoms of the common causes of tooth loss early and hopefully prevent it from happening.
Most of the time, dental X-rays are critical to the diagnosis of the causes of these conditions.
Why Should You Replace Your Missing Teeth?
Missing teeth can be unattractive and unsightly if they are in the front and can cause embarrassment and loss of self-confidence. Losing more front teeth or back teeth can cause the face to look older, collapsed or sunken as the teeth that support the lip and cheek are lost.
It also affects speech as certain words will be hard to pronounce with air leaking through the gaps especially in the front area. In superstitious Chinese belief, one’s “luck can leak out between the gaps of the front teeth!” if you believe it.
Missing one back tooth usually does not affect chewing function much. However as one loses more teeth over time, serious health issues such as indigestion and malnutrition may appear because food is not properly chewed or cannot chew certain tougher but more nutritious food like meat.
Prolonged malnutrition will complicate other medical conditions as one grow older and this situation will be more widespread as Singapore population ages. Losing more teeth will definitely decrease the pleasure of eating and appetite especially in a food paradise like Singapore. A quality life cannot be enjoyed without eating quality food, thus making the ability to chew a very important component of health.
All of the teeth are needed in the jaw to prevent teeth from moving. The extra-space created by the missing teeth will allow teeth to move or drift and create gaps between the other adjacent teeth causing irritating food trap. This in turn increases the chance of tooth decay and gum diseases at the food trapped areas and not to mention with reduced the pleasure of enjoying one’s meal.
The teeth opposing the empty space left by the missing teeth can drift downwards or “grown taller” as there is nothing to prevent this movement. This drifting of teeth from the opposing arch will lead to more gaps formation with resultant food traps.
This vicious cycle of tooth loss creating more food traps and directly causing more future tooth loss will not stop unless something is done to stop it. Loss of vertical space created by this vertical drifting of teeth into the empty space of the opposing arch over time can reduce this space to such an extent that it is impossible to replace the missing teeth with a denture or implant in the future.
Just one missing tooth can affect the integrity of the whole mouth and trigger a negative cycle of destruction by creating unsightly gaps with food trap, leading to more tooth decay and gum disease, that in turn, cause more tooth loss in the future. As the number of teeth decreases in the mouth, each remaining tooth has to bear more biting pressure and increasing more wear and tear, which lead to faster deterioration of the remaining teeth.
Fortunately, there are several options for replacing missing teeth. During a consultation with our dentists, you can learn more about your specific tooth loss problem and the treatment options. Most importantly is to break this cycle of self-destruction as the numbers of teeth get fewer in the mouth by saving whatever teeth that are left behind. Hopeless teeth will need to be removed and teeth with better chances of survival will be saved.
Implants, bridges and dentures are all possible solutions to replace your missing teeth that will restore your chewing ability and gain back your confidence.
Bridges can be made from gold, metal alloys, porcelain, ceramics or a combination of these things.
A partial denture is fitted to replace some missing teeth whilst a complete denture is indicated when all natural teeth are missing.
Once the dental implant is securely held by the healed bone in 2-3 months, the dentist can connect a tooth-like crown onto this titanium support.