It’s natural for teeth to get damaged as we age. Did you accidentally bite into an olive pit and feel a sharp pain in your tooth? Or take an elbow to the face during your pick-up game of soccer and scramble to find your knocked-out tooth in the nearby grass? Or perhaps you simply notice your tooth is aching after you wake up and suspect you clenched your teeth while you were sleeping.
No matter the cause, there are a number of dangers associated with missing or cracked teeth that can leave a lasting impact on your oral health. That’s why it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of missing or cracked teeth when they happen and get treated right away.
Common causes of missing teeth
People lose or are missing teeth for a variety of reasons:
- Genetic conditions – Some people never develop some or all of their permanent teeth.
- Tooth decay – When left untreated, severe infection can cause a tooth to fall out or require extraction.
- Gum disease – Gum disease can lead to loose teeth that may fall out on their own, or require extraction.
Can you live without a missing tooth?
Yes, you can live without a missing tooth — but that doesn’t mean you should. Leaving gaps in your teeth opens you up to a number of different problems, including:
- Increased risk of developing cavities and gum disease near the adjacent teeth
- Bone loss in the jaw
The tender, fleshy area left open by a missing tooth is an ideal place for bacteria to thrive. Plus, this area can be hard to reach and clean properly! This creates an ideal environment for bacteria to grow, thrive, and spread.
Not only that, but did you know that a tooth and its roots actually act as a stabilizer to the jaw bone? When even one tooth is missing, the jaw becomes less stable, and eventually loses density over time. This can lead to a “sunken” look in the face.
Other common problems that may occur as a result of missing teeth include:
- Shifting of the adjacent teeth — They will naturally try to fill the gap left by a missing tooth, and this shifting may lead to a misaligned bite down the road.
- Digestive problems — Missing teeth may lead to improper biting or chewing which may not break up food small enough. This can cause your stomach to produce more acid than it usually would, leading to stomach upset.
Treatments for missing teeth
Thankfully, if you have missing teeth or gaps in your teeth, Dr. Catt can help! There are a number of treatments available to restore missing or damaged teeth, including:
- Dental implants
- They are permanent if cared for properly, and look and feel just like natural teeth
- They strengthen the jaw bone
- They help keep your adjacent teeth aligned properly
Here’s what you can expect from the dental implant procedure with Dr. Catt:
- First, you’ll meet with Dr. Catt to plan your treatment. He’ll walk you through the procedure and take a 3D scan of your mouth to ensure proper placement of the implant.
- The dental implant will be placed into your jaw. You can think of the implant like artificial tooth roots — it will bond with the jawbone to provide strength and stability. Your comfort during the procedure will always be top of mind.
- Once the implant has been given time to heal and integrate, Dr. Catt will place a tiny connecting piece, called an abutment, over the implant, followed by the recommended restoration — a crown, implant denture, or dental bridge.
Dr. Catt is certified by the American Society of Implant & Reconstructive Dentistry and has been helping Medford-area residents achieve the smile of their dreams for over 20 years. Think dental implant treatment may be right for you? Contact us today to schedule!
Cracked or broken teeth
Why do teeth break or crack?
It’s easy to associate cracked teeth with some kind of trauma to the mouth. However, there are many other causes, including:
- Cavities – If left untreated, cavities may grow in the teeth to the point where they actually compromise the structure of the tooth, causing it to become weaker and more easily breakable.
- Bruxism – Also known as teeth grinding, bruxism is a common cause of teeth cracking. That’s because when we clench or grind our teeth, we can exert a force of up to 250 pounds. That’s a lot of strain for the teeth to deal with! Repetitive grinding also weakens the tooth enamel over time.
- Weakened tooth enamel – Enamel is the hard, outer protective layer of the tooth. It can become damaged or erode over time due to poor oral hygiene habits, teeth grinding, sugary and acidic foods/beverages, and genetics, causing the tooth to become weaker.
The problem with leaving cracked or broken teeth untreated
When left untreated, cracked teeth can lead to an infection that spreads not just in the tooth, but to the bone and gums. This kind of serious infection often requires a more involved treatment, like a root canal or even a tooth extraction.
To avoid this, it’s best to reach out to your dentist the moment you suspect you’ve cracked your tooth.
Signs and symptoms of a cracked tooth
But how can you tell when you’ve cracked a tooth? You may feel:
- Pain while chewing or biting
- Swollen gums around the tooth
- Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold
- Intermittent tooth pain
Treatments for cracked or broken teeth
It’s possible you may need a root canal to treat the effects of your cracked tooth and restore longevity. Smaller fixes like fillings or crowns may also be recommended.
Veneers are a great treatment option when it comes to repairing minor cracks or damaged teeth. At our Medford dentist office, we’re proud to offer a high-tech, minimally invasive veneer procedure called BioClear Matrix.
While traditional veneers often require removing some of the tooth’s enamel to bond the thin, porcelain shell to the front of the teeth, BioClear Matrix is different.
This approach uses an injection mold procedure, in which a clear plastic matrix is placed on either side of your teeth in the desired shape. Then, two types of dental composite are injected to fill the spaces in and around the tooth. The result is a perfect, long-lasting smile.
Full mouth rehab treatment with Dr. Catt
Do you feel like you’re dealing with a more complex situation than missing a tooth or a cracked tooth? You can trust Dr. Catt to help with a full mouth rehab treatment!
First, we’ll meet with you to discuss your smile concerns and goals. Dr. Catt will create a customized treatment plan just for you that may include a combination of general, cosmetic, and surgical treatments. Then, you’ll begin your smile rehab and we’ll work with you to make sure you’re comfortable every step of the way.
Do you have missing or damaged teeth? Contact our Medford office today
If you’ve been living with missing or damaged teeth, the experienced team can help! Dr. Catt has been working with our Rogue Valley community for over 20 years and will ensure you receive the friendly, high-quality dental care you deserve.
Book your appointment today, or give us a call at (541) 772-8846. We look forward to seeing you!