If you’re reading this, your dentist has probably told you that one or more of your teeth has to be removed. This might feel overwhelming, but rest assured that you are not alone: while losing a tooth will involve temporary adjustments to your life, tooth replacements are now so advanced that things will soon get back to normal. You’ll laugh, talk, eat and kiss, just as you do now, and we’re here to help you through every step of the journey ahead.
What Happens Next
You’ll be booked in for a tooth extraction procedure, which will take place in a dental office or prosthodontist office.1 The reasons for your extraction may vary; there may be a deep infection within your tooth, trauma from an injury or your teeth may have been impacted by gum disease.1 Your dentist or prosthodontist will spend time with you to discuss the best choice for tooth replacement. There are different types of dentures and lots of other options to replace your missing tooth. These include:2
- Partial denture
Used to replace one or more teeth and clip onto your remaining teeth.
- Full denture
A removable set of teeth used when all of your upper or lower teeth need to be removed.
An artificial tooth (or teeth) permanently attached to the remaining teeth on either side.
- Dental implant
A titanium root that mimics your tooth’s natural roots, placed into the bone beneath your gum and capped with a prosthetic tooth.
The options you choose may depend on cost, the health of your gums and bone, and which tooth (or teeth) is being removed. Speak with your dental health professional or prosthodontist about the options available to you.
Why You Need To Replace Your Missing Tooth
Putting off the decision to replace a missing tooth may cause your remaining teeth to shift, affecting your bite and appearance, and it can also cause decay and gum disease from trapped food. By replacing a missing tooth, you help to restore the health and structure of the surrounding tissues.3 Follow the advice of your dentist if they tell you if and when you need a replacement.
The Emotional Side Of Tooth Loss
As well as dealing with the physical aspects of losing a tooth, it can come with emotional struggles too.
Your teeth are part of your body and identity, affecting how you eat, communicate, and present yourself. It’s OK to turn your thoughts to how tooth loss will impact on your life.4 Whether you choose full or partial dentures, bridges or dental implants, allow yourself time to get used to the idea and come to terms with it.4
You should also know that you’re certainly not alone – about 178 million people in the USA are missing at least one tooth and about 40 million Americans have no teeth at all.5
If You Choose Dentures
As the experts on caring for dentures, we can tell you that if you choose that option to replace your teeth, any challenges you’ll face are usually temporary and can be overcome in time with the guidance of your dentist or prosthodontist and our expertise.
About 1 in 5 people wear dentures, which means that several people you know are probably wearing them right now.6 “I thought that none of my sisters wore dentures,” says Asher Robinson, 59, who wears them after an accident knocked out her two front teeth. “But when I got my dentures, one of them admitted to me that she’s got a side-denture!”
Tooth loss can affect anyone, but older adults and the financially disadvantaged are disproportionately affected.7 However, about 15% of the population who is missing at least one tooth will have a denture made every year.7 “I associated dentures with my mum because she had a full set,” says Asher. “For me, dentures meant old people. But now that I wear them, I don’t think of them as an old-people thing. If you have to have them, you have to have them!”
Life Will Go Back To Normal
Dentures take some getting used to, but millions of people do it every day and live happy, normal lives. “I found wearing dentures very easy to get used to,” says Wendy Fisher, 64. “It’s very comfortable – I notice when it’s not there, but not when it’s in. It doesn’t affect the way I eat or what I eat, so I go out and eat, drink, smile, laugh, whatever – it’s not a problem, it’s very positive.”
Technological advances in the way that dentures are made means that today’s dentures look the same as enamel teeth. They’ll be color-matched to your existing teeth, so it’s entirely up to you whether you divulge to friends and family that you’re a denture wearer.8
Initially, eating and speaking can take some getting used to. and you’ll need to make allowances for that, such as eating softer foods and practicing speaking with your dentures in, but there is plenty of information available here to see you through that journey with ease.8 You will eat in public, laugh with friends, give presentations and go on dates. Everything is possible.
Almost a quarter of the US population say that they feel embarrassment due to the condition of their mouth and teeth. If you can relate to this, you may find that replacing your missing tooth actually improves your quality of life.9
“Getting dentures made a huge change to my life,” says David Clement-Horton, 51, who had three of his top front teeth removed. “They gave me the ability to smile –now I smile happily. Being a singer on stage, I have to smile a lot but, before, I was always self-conscious of the gap in my teeth that kept getting bigger.”
Your Action Plan
Before your next appointment, research the types of tooth replacement and their cost so that you can have a full and informed discussion with your dentist, and also note down any questions you have on the effects of tooth loss after your tooth extraction procedure. Feeling informed and prepared will enable you to face this upcoming life event in a positive and proactive way.
Finally, make sure you have the proper dentist-approved products to care for your partials, like Polident 3-Minute Denture Cleanser.