Missing Teeth or Tooth Loss

Frequently Asked Questions (Click on Questions to See Answers)

A - Teeth can be lost or extracted due to decay, disease, injury, genetics or personal choice. Sometimes people do not clean their teeth according to recommended oral hygiene practices which result in plaque build-up that rots teeth causing decay or gum disease. If left untreated, the teeth may have to be extracted to prevent further decay, oral and/or physical disease. Poor diet or nutritional deficiencies and excessive lifestyle practices, such as smoking, or habits of biting hard objects with the teeth, can also contribute to tooth damage and loss.

Athletes involved in contact sports or activities with direct physical contact, such as football or boxing, particularly need to wear mouth guards to prevent injury to the mouth and tooth loss. Even cyclists and hockey players are at risk of facial injury that can result in missing teeth from either falling or being hit by a hockey stick or ball. Children may lose teeth through facial injury when playing.

Certain genetic conditions, such as down syndrome, oral clefts, and ectodermal dysplasia can result in people born with oral development deformities, that include less adult teeth than normal. These conditions are usually identified during childhood for early treatment. The causes of your missing teeth, or concerns about possible tooth loss, can be discussed with our resident dentist at examination to identify the best route of treatment for you or your dependent.

A - Anyone, regardless of age, can loose teeth. Medical doctors can identify how prone someone may be to losing teeth as a result of a medical condition or medications. Visiting our resident dentist regularly for check-ups can help to minimize the possibility of tooth loss through diagnosis, teeth cleaning, disinfecting root canals, and restorative procedures.

A - A number of treatments are available to restore missing teeth, such as implants, bridges, dentures and crowns. Although each of these treatment procedures and materials differ, the main function of tooth restoration treatments is to secure natural tooth structure by filling the tooth gap with an artificial tooth that looks like and functions as natural teeth. Of course the option exists to leave a missing tooth and not have treatment to fill the gap, but this presents risks to the alignment of teeth structure and jaw shape. General health and wellbeing can suffer if facial deformity occurs that affects facial expressions and confidence. Smile makeovers are a cosmetic dentistry option that can help people restore their natural form and bright smile.

A - The treatments for tooth loss are implants, bridges, crowns or dentures. In all these treatments, our resident dentist will offer you a sedative to relax and administer local anaesthetic if necessary to ensure that the treatment is pain-free. You have a choice of sedative and anaesthetic options for your comfort. Initially, X-rays or CT Scan is taken of your mouth and teeth structure to determine damage, the amount of treatment needed, and the type(s) of dental work required. Certain materials may also be more suitable for use in your case depending on diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Once your teeth are cleaned and scaled, a mould is taken of your teeth using dental putty or CEREC technology. Your teeth structure and the restoration site may be mapped using CEREC Technology that produces specifications provided to a dental technician who designs and creates your substitute teeth - whether implant, crown, bridge or denture. Sometimes root canal treatment is necessary to disinfect, remove decay and seal a tooth before restoration treatments are applied.

All procedures require examination, diagnosis, teeth cleaning, X-ray, and moulding or mapping of the site requiring restoration. The differences include the reasons a particularly treatment is selected: implants to replace teeth and tooth roots; crowns to restore teeth or act as anchors; bridges as partial teeth substitutes; and dentures as full teeth substitutes. Variations are also in the restoration work, materials and equipment used for fitting the substitute teeth.

Dental Implants

For dental implants, a hole is drilled in the gum and root canal zone to fit a titanium post that acts as a tooth root. A porcelain crown can then be attached to this tooth root through a process known as placement and abutment. These implants act as natural teeth, anchor to your natural teeth, and can be used to replace one or more missing teeth from materials, such as porcelain or metal alloys. More than one appointment is necessary for implants to prepare the mouth and the teeth, so that the bite and fit is right.

Dental Crowns

Crowns can be used to strengthen existing damaged teeth or to replace missing teeth as attachments to titanium implant roots, or are bound to natural teeth with dental cement through an etching process.

Dental Bridges

Bridges work similarly to implants and dentures, but do differ in that a titanium post may not be implanted as a replacement tooth root. Instead, bridges are created in the mouth using a composite resin material as a pontic or dummy tooth before fitting a fixed partial denture where the natural tooth root may still exist. There are different types of bridges and usually teeth on either side of the ‘bridge teeth’ are prepared with crowns for the bridge to anchor to.

Dentures

Dentures are removable artificial tooth replacements made from materials such as porcelain, and act like bridges, but replace more teeth or act as a full set of teeth. A dental technician fabricates the dentures to comfortably match the contours of your mouth and our resident dentist then fits the dentures to an acrylic resin base or titanium implant.

A - On examination of your teeth with X-ray or CT Scan, our resident dentist will be able to identify the extent of damage to the mouth and treatments required. The specific types of treatments will be discussed with you and recommendations made so that you can choose what option for new teeth is right for you.

A - If a damaged tooth cannot be saved through either root canal treatment or tooth restoration such as fitting of a crown, due to irreparable decay, disease, or injury, then the dentist may recommend tooth extraction. Sometimes extracting a tooth is healthier in the long run to prevent repetitive infections, abscesses or development of gum disease that not only affects dental health but can cause overall physical and mental illness.

A - Even though some people have a full or partial set of natural teeth, they still sometimes consider removing all natural teeth, but this is not generally recommended. The reasons people opt to do so may be cultural, may be for ease or for aesthetics. Discussing thoughts about removing natural teeth with our resident dentist may help you realize the benefits of maintaining natural tooth structure that facilitates our facial features and expressions, and how best to do so for optimal oral health and overall wellbeing.

A - Leaving a missing tooth untreated is an options, but it is not recommended because of the strain placed on natural teeth over the long-term, and how this strain can impact other teeth, tooth structure, and facial form. A tooth lost due to tooth decay, infection or injury may have a underlying reason that resulted in the tooth loss, such as multiple root canal infections or gum disease. If the missing tooth site is left untreated, infections and disease can spread causing dental, physical and mental illness. It is best to have a missing tooth examined and our resident dentist is available to provide you with advice and options for treatment if needed.

A - None of the treatments, such as implants, crowns, bridges, and dentures, are painful because a local anaesthetic is provided beforehand to ensure the treatment is pain-free. Some people feel high anxiety or dental phobia at the thought of dental treatment. Our resident dentist can help patients overcome dental fears through consultation therapy, relaxation techniques and sedative options. Once treatment is given, discomfort may be experienced afterwards, but our resident dentist will provide any prescriptions needed to give comfort and will also advise you on how best to look after the treated oral site.

A - Dental procedures have vastly improved over the years with new skills, materials and technologies that are tried and tested for quality and safe results. Treatment risks can depend on the expertise of the dentist, the types of procedures, the equipment and materials used, and the patient's overall dental care and health status. Any risks will be discussed with you prior to treatment at your dental appointment.

Recommendations to treat and replace missing teeth are provided on a patient-specific basis to minimize risk and to provide each person with dental treatment to suit their needs. Making sure that you fully inform our resident dentist of medical history and medications, and of your needs to learn about proper oral hygiene, is vital for proper treatment and dental care.

A - The cost of treatments to replace missing teeth vary greatly depending on the patient's diagnosis, the amount of dental work needed, the types of treatment procedures and materials used, the skill of the dentist, the location of treatment or dental practice, and the selected payment option. Our resident dentist will discuss any costs with you at examination and will also explain options with you to finance your dental care.

A - Tooth loss can be prevented by following recommended dental hygiene practices, such as tooth brushing techniques with fluoride toothpaste, and rinsing with mouthwash. Weekly flossing and chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help reduce trapped food that causes plaque, bacteria build-up and tooth decay or gum disease. Visiting our resident dentist regularly for check-ups, such as every six months or as advised due to diagnosis, will prevent tooth loss because any threats to your dental health can be identified and treated early.

Other factors that can prevent tooth loss are wearing a mouth-guard for sports and occupations that can result in direct facial injury. Asking your medical doctor about medications and your general health that can contribute to tooth loss will help you keep your dentist informed, and aid with appropriate diagnosis and treatment. Simply educating yourself about oral health can help you become more aware of diet, nutritional and lifestyle factors that may also place you at risk of tooth loss.

Feel free to contact our resident dentist for advice about your teeth and suitable ways to protect against damaged or missing teeth.