Few of us learned just how important it was to brush and floss our teeth when we were growing up. Even fewer were taught the exact techniques that are effective. You need to use a brush that has soft-to-medium bristles (hard ones and aggressive technique will wear down the gums). You should stroke from the gum line to the top of the tooth on back and front, spending two minutes on the entire mouth twice a day. Floss needs to scrape each side between the teeth to get off all the food and beverage particles, lest bacteria feed on them and create the sticky film called plaque. If it is not removed, it will soon turn into hardened tartar and a periodontal infection will gradually peel away the gums supporting each tooth.
Eventually, you will lose the tooth and the natural response of the neighboring ones is to lean in to fill the gap, starting a misalignment that loosens other teeth. They will fall out or need to be extracted and the next thing you know, you may need a partial set of dentures. Partials, as they are called, do not, however, stop the erosion of the underlying jawbone once this process starts, so you may end up eventually needing a complete denture, which will come with challenges of effectively chewing and clearly speaking.
There is an alternative (in addition to prevention by working hard to keep your teeth and gums free of infection): dental implants. An implant is a small biocompatible titanium alloy screw that is inserted into the empty socket where the tooth was and allowed to integrate with the jawbone. A few months later it will be attached to a crown, which looks like the visible portion of a tooth and is custom-made of dental porcelain to match the shade of the neighboring teeth. This not only allows you to eat and speak as before the tooth loss, it stops the misalignment of the other teeth. With proper care, a dental implant could be a permanent solution.
In some cases, when the patient has insufficient bone to support an implant, misalignment can be prevented by a dental bridge attached to the teeth on each side of the gap, with an artificial tooth in between.
Implants can also be used to improve conventional dentures by anchoring them into the jawbone, which will slow down the normal erosion process that typically comes with aging.
If you have lost one tooth or many and have not had your options explained, call Studio Dental Care today to set up an appointment for a free examination.