What Happens if I Don't Replace My Missing Teeth?
by Dr. Scott Bolding | Nov. 9, 2021
Why People May Hesitate to Replace Their Missing Teeth
One of the top reasons you may hesitate to replace your missing teeth is cost. Dental implants can be especially expensive since you pay by the implant; the more you need, the more it costs. The good thing is, you do have options. One option is to receive removable bridges/dentures instead—or at least for the time being. Another is to discuss payment options with a receptionist. You may be able to receive financial aid, create a feasible payment plan, and/or use insurance to cover some of the costs.
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Aside from the cost, many people avoid replacing their missing teeth due to dental anxiety. In fact, researchers have found that 50–80% of adults struggle to some degree with dental anxiety in the U.S. This can result from just one bad visit to the dentist, or it can develop over time. If you struggle with dental anxiety, speaking with your dentist about your fears or concerns can help ease some of that anxiety. Planning out the procedure with them and knowing your next step can help as well. And don’t be afraid to ask questions to make sure you feel comfortable with their work.
Some specific fears people may have due to dental anxiety include fear of dental implant failure/surgical risks, the need for multiple implants, and oral pain. In terms of implant failure, the likelihood of this happening is low. The success rate for implant surgeries ranges from 90–95%, depending on the placement as well as the surgeon, so surgical complications do not occur often. If you are afraid of needing multiple implants, the good news is that even if you have to replace several teeth, you may only need a few implants. As far as oral pain goes, the surgery itself is quite painless, especially if anesthesia is involved. Even the aftermath of the surgery doesn’t involve much pain, thanks to modern medicine.
Fears specific to removable dentures and bridges include the belief that they’re only for elderly people, they won’t stay in, they will be difficult to eat in, and they will be uncomfortable. The belief that these appliances, specifically dentures, are only for elderly people is false. People of all ages receive them for all sorts of reasons. We have completely redefined how these appliances work, how they can increase quality of life, and how they can be more successful, more functional, and better looking. You also should not fear that they will fall out because, again, advanced technology now provides more functional appliances.
The belief that they are difficult to eat in is also false. While they may take some getting used to, eating with them gets easier in time. The same goes for comfortability. Practice makes perfect, so things will go much smoother once you are used to the appliance. You may even forget they’re in your mouth after a certain point.
A fear people have of both fixed and removable appliances is their aesthetics. They fear the appliance will look fake. That people will notice. That their insecurities with their smile will follow them even after the procedure. But the truth is, not only do all of the replacement options look real, but they can mirror conditions such as dental fluorosis, which causes some parts of the teeth to look translucent, to make them look even more natural next to surrounding teeth.
What Can Happen if You Don’t Replace Missing Teeth?
If you do not replace your missing teeth, problems can arise with your oral health. One of the largest issues is when surrounding teeth shift to fill in the gap. This can happen on the same row or on the opposite incisor. Both issues can cause problems with your bite, which can result in an unwanted TMJ disorder.
If shifting occurs on the opposite incisor, you may be looking at super eruption problems as well. A super eruption happens when the teeth opposite to the missing space start extracting themselves to overcompensate for the gaps. This happens because they have nothing to press against. It exposes the roots, which have no enamel to protect them against decay. As a result, it can lead to infection or disease that may cause even more tooth loss and unwanted pain. While super eruption is common in children whose teeth are just starting to come in, it can lead to more serious problems if it occurs during adulthood.
Other issues that can occur from not replacing your teeth include the following:
- Problems with eating or chewing
- Altered facial structure
- Loosened teeth
- Bone loss—which can become so significant that dental implants may no longer be an option for you; instead, you would be stuck with the removable option
- Continued insecurities with your smile
It doesn’t stop there, though. Missing teeth don’t just affect your mouth; they can also affect your overall well-being. If you struggle to eat, this can affect your nutritional health. If you get an infection, this may have a direct impact on your immune system (especially if left untreated). And if you lose more teeth as a result or experience any other visible side effects, you may start or continue to struggle with insecurities that can affect your mental health.
We want to make sure you return to normal and gain your life back as soon as possible. By filling the gaps in your teeth, you are taking back control of your life—your health, your confidence, your future. You can eat the foods you love again without worrying if it will cause you pain or embarrassment. You can finally go out in public without hiding your teeth while having a conversation or starting to laugh. And you can continue on with your everyday life without having to worry about the potential side effects of not replacing your teeth; you will know they are healthy and working as they should.
So What Should I Do?
The best time to contact your dentist about missing teeth is right after injury or extraction, if possible. But if you were born with missing teeth or have had them for a while, just try to reach out as soon as possible. The sooner your teeth are replaced, the better.
What are Your Options?
If you are missing one or more teeth and want to fill in the gaps, you have several options to choose from, including dental implants, bridges, and dentures.
Dental implants are one of the most common ways people replace their missing teeth. Receiving one involves the surgical placement of a titanium screw, topped by an artificial tooth (mini implants are similar, except the screws are smaller). Implants are typically given to those with one or few missing teeth.
Bridges and dentures are two other options. Bridges typically replace two or more teeth and do not have to be in any sequential order. Dentures, on the other hand, replace several or all teeth consecutively on one or both jaws. For either option, you have the choice to receive a fixed or removable version of the appliance—the difference being that fixed bridges and dentures are held in place by implants while removable ones are held in place by adhesive, applied daily. The fixed option can use as little as two or four implants, depending on the nature of the situation. Meanwhile, the removable option requires no implants at all.
We Are Here to Help You Make the Right Decision
Making the right decision for your health may be difficult, but we are here to make the decision easier for you. At PRECiDENT, we do our best to help you fully understand your options and ease your anxiety to give you a positive dental experience. We use the most advanced technology to make even the most complicated surgeries easier—for both of us! You no longer have to be afraid of getting back that perfect smile you once had or have always longed for. Feel free to reach out to us through email or phone if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. You can find our contact information at the bottom of our website.