There are many adults throughout the world that are missing one or more teeth. Sometimes people lose teeth because of a fracture, or an infection. Some teeth are lost due to decay, while others become loose due to gum disease. This is a problem that many people will have at some point in their life and something that I see every day as a dentist.
After a tooth is extracted, it leaves an empty hole or socket in the jaw bone that needs to heal. If the empty socket is left to heal naturally the bone in the area will usually shrink, leaving a concavity or defect in the jaw. In many cases, this shrinking can be prevented by performing a non-invasive bone graft at the time of the extraction. If the missing tooth is not replaced the teeth next to it tend to drift or tilt into the open space. This undesirable tooth movement can cause problems with the way the upper and lower teeth fit together. Tilting teeth also leads to oral hygiene challenges and can often result in inflammation to the gums and damage to the bone that supports the remaining teeth.
One of the amazing things about modern dentistry is the availability of dental implants. Dental implants can be installed in the jaw to replace the root of a missing tooth. After a few months an abutment and crown can be attached to the implant. The abutment and crown replace the part of a tooth that we see and chew with. Together an implant, abutment, and crown are an excellent way to replace a tooth and return your mouth to ideal esthetics and function.
When you are missing a tooth, the remaining teeth have to work harder and must take on more force than they were intended to. Replacing missing teeth helps distribute the work of chewing and prevents accelerated wear on remaining teeth. Patients often experience better digestion after the completion of implant restorations, because they can properly chew their food. If you are missing one or more teeth and would like to prevent further damage and regain esthetics and function implants might be right for you.