Although incidents of premature tooth loss are generally decreasing due to improved oral health, it is still a common concern for the ageing population. Luckily, innovations in dentistry provide us with an array of personalized, convenient solutions.
While some instances of tooth loss are preventable, in other cases it can be a result of unforeseen circumstances. When faced with early tooth loss, many Canadians find themselves wondering whether dentures are the right choice for them.
The answer is largely a matter of personal choice. To decide whether dentures are the right solution to tooth loss for you, compare the pros and cons of dentures and a popular alternative: dental implants.
Causes Of Premature Tooth Loss
If you haven’t experienced tooth loss, preventative tactics can make a big difference. If you’re wondering why you’re experiencing premature tooth loosening, this list gives you some clues as to the likely cause.
Whether it’s a slip and fall, an impact from a foreign object, or a car accident, tooth loss may accompany any harm to the face. Although trauma to the mouth may not immediately result in tooth loss, it can damage teeth in unseen ways. Cracks below the gum line can make teeth and gums vulnerable to infection.
Sports are one of the most common causes of tooth loss due to injury, and it doesn’t just happen to professional athletes or energetic youngsters! If engaging in any high-impact athletic activities, remember that a mouthguard significantly lowers the chance of injury to the teeth and face. Link to PDF here.
- Tooth decay
When cavities develop in teeth, their structure is weakened. As a cavity progresses, holes form in the tooth. Cavities below the gum line can be particularly problematic since they may be difficult to detect, and since damage to the root is more likely to result in tooth loss.
To prevent decay from advancing to the point where it threatens your teeth, schedule regular check-ups with a trusted dentist.
- Gum disease
Periodontal disease is the most common cause of tooth loss in adults. When the surrounding gums are weakened by infection, they can no longer adequately support a tooth. Luckily, this condition is largely preventable. Conscientious oral health can significantly reduce the chances of losing a tooth, and regular dental exams will mean that any problem is spotted before it gets out of control. Daily brushing and flossing are key steps in the prevention of periodontitis, with improved dietary habits also making a significant impact.
Since this disease results in decreased bone density, it can affect the jaw’s ability to fully support teeth. However, your jaw is not usually the first area of the body to show signs of bone loss, so not all sufferers will experience tooth loss as a result of a diagnosis. However, if you are diagnosed, regular brushing and flossing will help prevent a problem. Additionally, take care to avoid anything that might accidentally loosen teeth (like hard or sticky candies). As always, contact your dentist at the first sign of a loose tooth.
How Premature Tooth Loss Can Affect You
If patients don’t immediately notice any unpleasant side effects as a result of tooth loss, they may wonder why this problem needs to be treated at all. However, tooth loss can result in a variety of complications, all of which may worsen over time.
- Your face
Even one or two lost teeth can significantly alter the shape of your face. This can result in an unpleasant “sagging” appearance, which is bound to have adverse effects on your confidence. Aside from an altered smile, the first area to show signs of tooth loss will likely be the skin around the mouth, since it will be unsupported. Cheeks can hollow, making it appear as if the face is shrinking. Dentures or implants can help prevent this unpleasant side effect of tooth loss.
- Your diet
While this could result in some embarrassing social scenarios, it also constitutes a health risk, since you may not be able to chew food adequately. This means that eating will take longer and may require more caution and attention.
- Your voice
Along with changes in your appearance, this side effect is primarily a blow to your confidence. The impact on your ability to articulate may not only be a result of the gaps in your mouth but in the bone loss that can ultimately result if gaps remain unfilled.
- Bone loss
Some people are surprised to learn that bone is living tissue and that it requires stimulation to maintain a healthy density. The bone surrounding teeth is called alveolar bone, and your teeth stimulate it sufficiently to prevent it from breaking down. Healthy bone will continually rebuild itself.
However, tooth loss removes the required level of stimulation, and the alveolar bone will then start to diminish. This can increase the unpleasant hollowing of the cheeks, and it can compound any difficulties with eating or speaking.
Choosing Between Dentures And Dental Implants
These aren’t your grandma’s false teeth! New technologies mean we now have access to a variety of comfortable options. Whether you’re looking for full dentures or partial ones (to replace a small number of lost teeth), consider the following factors.
- Low cost
If you’re worried about the cost of dentures, rest assured that they’re becoming more and more affordable as technologies advance, and as manufacturing processes improve. Dentures can be made at a variety of price points, depending on the number of teeth being replaced and the materials chosen for the manufacturing process. Your dentist can advise you regarding the most cost-effective solution, which will take into account potential repairs and maintenance costs.
- Easy to maintain
Although dentures do need to be removed at night, this helps facilitate the cleaning process. Cleaning fends off bad breath, stains, and infections such as oral thrush (which is caused by yeast). A variety of affordable cleansing solutions are available to help you get a deep clean.
If a patient is suffering from a condition that weakens the jaw or gums (such as periodontitis), dentures may be the most comfortable, practical solution. This could also apply if they have — at some point — sustained an injury to the mouth area. If the jawbone has been compromised in any way, dental implants may not be a feasible option.
- Loose dentures
Ill-fitting dentures can cause discomfort and embarrassment, and can be a source of ongoing irritation. An improper fit will also impair your ability to eat and speak properly, limiting what foods and activities you can enjoy. Finally, if you’re using ill-fitting partial dentures, consider that adjacent teeth can be damaged as a result of irritation from your dentures.
Dentures can be damaged or broken, and they require adhesive to remain secure. You dentist can provide you with a denture kit, which will help you to repair your dentures in an emergency, before seeing a professional. If you find that your dentures become loose, (which can happen for a variety of reasons) don’t hesitate to contact your dentist for a refitting.
For many, implants are an attractive long-term alternative to dentures that provide bone stability and the confidence that your bite is taken care of.
- A perfect fit
Our faces naturally change as we age, and your dentures might eventually feel loose in your mouth. This problem can be corrected by your dentist, but with implants it’s not a concern. A dental implant actually fuses to your bone, creating an incredibly secure fit.
- A natural look
Dental implants give you an incredibly natural smile, with the appearance (and feel) of your natural teeth. In most cases, no one will be able to tell that anything has changed at all!
- Durable and long-lasting
If a careful oral health routine is maintained, dental implants can last up to 25 years. This makes them especially appealing to younger patients, who may not want the trouble of replacing and maintaining dentures over the years.
- Helps prevent bone loss
As explained above, missing teeth can result in loss of bone density in the mouth and jaw area. The presence of implants will slow this process, since the new teeth will serve to stimulate the bone in much the same way that your natural teeth did. This helps avoid unwanted changes in your face structure.
Implants are not as cost-effective as dentures. For many, this downside will be outweighed by the long-term benefits; but for others, the initial expenditure may be a deterrent.
- Unsuitable for some
To qualify as a candidate for dental implants, you will require a certain level of density in the jaw bone, and the gums should not be compromised by disease. Therefore, implants may not be an option for every patient.
While implants are undeniably an attractive long-term option, dentures present a versatile, low-cost alternative. Ultimately, the choice depends on your financial situation and your personal health.
If you’re in the Sarnia area and wondering, “Where can I find dentures and implants near me?” call (519) 344-5747 to speak with an expert. At Lambton Dental, we’re ready to answer your questions about tooth loss, and overall dental health.