We’ve come a long way since the days when dentists replaced patients’ missing teeth with those of dogs, baboons, and even cadavers (not even kidding). And while there have been remarkable advances in the materials, function, and fit of dental prosthetics and implants, not everyone realizes how many different groups of people can benefit from their use. Dr. Shawn Hofkes, who offers dental implants in Cerritos, CA, debunks misconceptions about tooth replacement options.
Causes of Tooth Loss in Adults
People are often quick to judge tooth loss as a problem that only affects older adults, but this isn’t a fair assumption. It’s true that tooth loss is more prevalent among mature adults, but this isn’t a natural effect of the aging process; gum disease is usually to blame. Other possible causes of tooth loss include:
- A tooth with decay so severe that a filling or crown cannot repair the damage
- Teeth that have been knocked out in sports injuries or car accidents
- Untreated infections too advanced for root canal treatment
- Certain health conditions that attack the gums and tissues
We often hear of adults in their 30s and 40s who have lost one or more teeth, but haven’t sought treatment because they were unaware of their options. Most simply assume that dentures are the only available option to replace missing teeth.
A Missing Tooth Can Still Do Harm
If you’ve lost a tooth near the side or back of your mouth, you might assume that no action is necessary; the gap isn’t noticeable when you smile, so what’s the point? Bad idea, says Dr. Hofkes. When you lose a tooth, your remaining teeth must work harder to chew your food and maintain your bite. They may become weak and easily chipped or broken, or they may become sensitive to temperature as the enamel wears thin. Eventually the surrounding teeth can shift out of their original position, creating an unnatural alignment that leads to jaw pain or teeth grinding.
Unlike dentures, dental implants are a permanent solution for replacing missing teeth, and they’re the closest possible match to your own teeth. Although the healing process can require several months, most patients would agree that the results are worth the wait. With implants, you needn’t worry about wearing a prosthetic that slips or rubs your mouth painfully.
Are you a candidate for dental implants? To learn more about tooth loss, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Shawn Hofkes, contact our Cerritos dentist office here. We welcome patients living in Cerritos, Long Beach, Lakewood, Fullerton, Buena Park, and the surrounding areas.