Why Replace A Back Tooth That’s Not Visible In A Smile?

Posted on Dec 22, 2016 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

A great smile is always a welcome sight. It reflects a positive side of one’s personality and projects a warmth that is often contagious!

When a tooth is missing that’s visible in a smile, however, it sends a negative message. People tend to associate a gap in a smile with lower standards. In one study, 200 participants ages 19 to 50 were shown photographs of smiling individuals, some whom were missing a tooth or teeth. The participants ranked the people in the photos on attractiveness, health, education, satisfaction with life, social life, intelligence, and other traits.

Just one missing tooth can lead to many future problems.

Just one missing tooth can lead to many future problems.

The findings of the study (published by the National Institutes of Health: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18556899) suggested a person missing visible teeth was more negatively perceived on all social traits than a person with a full smile.

When a back tooth is missing and not visible in a smile, some people perceive that it’s not necessary to replace it. Although it can’t be seen, your back teeth have an important role in your oral well-being. A big one.

Each tooth helps to keep other teeth in their proper positions. When an empty space exists beside a tooth or above (or below), the neighboring teeth tilt out of proper alignment. The teeth on each side tilt and the tooth above or below grows longer.

What occurs as a result is a domino effect. Since the teeth are now misaligned, they meet other teeth without the harmonious fit they were designed to have. Thus, the result is often chips, cracks or broken teeth. But, it can get worse.

When a bite becomes misaligned, the jaw joints react. These joints (referred to as TMJ) can become strained and stressed as a result of bite misalignment. This can lead to night-time clenching and grinding as the jaw moves around trying to find a harmonious position.

Clenching and grinding can result in frequent headaches, migraines, dizziness, ear ringing, worn teeth, sore jaw joints and difficulty opening the mouth fully. Because many of these symptoms are not always perceived to be related to bite misalignment, people are often mis-diagnosed.

While all these issues can easily be avoided by replacing a missing tooth, how it is replaced is also important. When a tooth is replaced by a crown-&-bridge combination, the teeth on each side must be crowned to serve as supports for the replacement tooth (or teeth). To shave down otherwise healthy teeth for the sole purpose of supporting a bridge is not necessary with Dental Implants.

Dental Implants are positioned in the jaw bone, recreating the presence of a tooth root. This gives your replacement tooth (or teeth) the same dependable foundation that your natural teeth have. Too, the presence of the implant in the bone helps you avoid the bone loss that occurs when tooth roots no longer exist in the jaw.

Another bonus of Dental Implants is their “one and done” appeal! Dental Implants are designed to last a lifetime, making them an excellent investment. Additionally, implants will never require root canals, cavity repair or other work traditionally associated with crown-&-bridge.

The best time to have a Dental Implant placed is when the tooth or teeth are extracted. This way, implant placement can be a simple process since the insertion point is already prepared. A Periodontist is a dental specialist who has advanced training in the selection of the implant type best suited for you as well as specific expertise in placement.

If you’re missing a back tooth or teeth, let’s discuss replacing them before you endure a lengthy list of repercussions. Call 828-274-9440 to arrange a consultation.


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