Very few of us are naturally blessed with straight, white teeth and a dazzling smile.
Those people lucky with genetics handed down over generations are in the minority.
And, even for those of us who started out with healthy teeth, our lifestyle and bad habits – along with a little ageing – may have put paid to a smile that once was near perfect.
Over time, teeth can drift and our gums shrink with the arches of our mouth narrowing, often leading to overcrowding, exposing the dentine of teeth and creating gaps.
For those of us with a missing tooth or teeth, this not only looks unsightly and can knock our confidence, but it can also create problems for our dental health, too. Our bite can change as a consequence and make it difficult to eat properly.
The way our teeth fit together when we bite down is called occlusion and, if this is off kilter, we may have problems chewing or we may grind our teeth, wearing them down or even cracking them. Poor occlusion can also lead to stress and headaches.
Our teeth tend to naturally move toward the front of our mouths without the presence of surrounding teeth to keep them in place.
With movement and the spaces this creates, food can get trapped in areas on which bacteria feed and, if left unaddressed, may lead to gum disease.
If teeth are extracted, bone shrinkage occurs because it has nothing to support and, without stimulation, the bone loss can become so severe that it alters the way your mouth looks, ageing it prematurely.
So, what can be done about missing teeth?
There are a number of ways to replace missing teeth – with the gold standard these days being dental implants.
Made from titanium, they augment or fuse with living bone in the jaw (even in areas with low bone density), providing a strong and stable solution to missing teeth. They last a long time as well – with longevity dependant on a high level of oral hygiene.
The process of obtaining dental implants can be lengthy, but the success rate is high. Some dentists, however, are able to replace broken, missing or decayed teeth with titanium dental implants and porcelain teeth in one day.
And the All-on-Four implant system can provide specially configured and angled implants that support up to 12 teeth per jaw.
If bone density is an issue, some dentists may suggest soft tissue or bone grafting as a solution in order to support implants.
Your dentist will be able to advise on this and all other options at the consultation.