Having a tooth knocked out or losing it to dental decay can be a very painful experience but people rarely consider the pain and anxiety that comes as a result of a missing tooth. Firstly, a missing tooth can be very embarrassing, especially in the teeth visible when smiling or talking. This can have serious repercussions for a patient’s self-confidence and esteem. It can cause people to be reluctant to smile and make eye contact, two of the most important ways we have of communicating.
But a missing tooth can have more than just psychological effects on a patient. A missing tooth in the dental arc can create a breeding ground for bacteria. Because the soft tissue is difficult to clean with a regular brush, it needs special attention to keep the hollow clean and prevent the spread of dangerous infections. A vacant space in the arc can also cause the remaining teeth to lean and shift about. This can cause irritating alterations to bite (the way the top and bottom teeth sit together when the mouth is closed). If left untreated this irritation can develop into a painful jaw condition called TMJ. It can also be the cause of sub-conscious teeth grinding known as bruxism. In cases where more than one tooth is lost, the loss of the rigid teeth structure can cause the facial tissue to sink, a process which becomes irreversible of not addressed in sufficient time.
It is therefore important to replace missing teeth as soon as possible. One of the most common artificial dental substitutes is called a dental bridge. This involves making a bridge from an artificial tooth attached to existing teeth on either side of the gap. If teeth are healthy and strong, the artificial tooth, known as a pontic from the Latin word for bridge, is attached with resin-bonded strips. If the teeth are not of sufficient quality the pontic will be attached to crowns cemented over the adjacent teeth.
Dental bridges are effective substitutes for real teeth. They are fixed substitutes unlike partial dentures or dental plates, so patients do not have to worry about the embarrassment of them falling out. If properly cared for and cleaned, a dental bridge can last for more than ten years. If you have suffered the pain of a knocked out or decayed tooth, ask a West London dentist about a dental bridge and you could restore your teeth to full functionality and restore their cosmetic appearance.