or ….. OUT OF SIGHT, OUT OF MIND?
The American College of Prosthodontists reports that 178 million people in the US are missing at least one tooth. Delta Dental Northeast reports that nearly half of Americans ages 65 and older have lost six or more teeth, and 20 percent have lost all of their teeth.
It’s understandable why most people consider a missing front or side tooth an emergency: it immediately affects their appearance. When the missing tooth is visible when smiling, most people will replace it with a dental implant or other tooth replacement option. Some patients who chip or lose a front tooth won’t even go to work until they’ve had at least a temporary solution put in place.
However, when the missing tooth is a molar or toward the back, it often isn’t treated with the same urgency. The logic goes: “if no one can see it, it’s not as important as a missing tooth closer to the front.”
The reality is that the everyday functions of chewing and biting are affected when a tooth is lost, regardless of where the tooth was.
Missing back teeth are common because the molars are the first adult teeth to erupt and unfortunately, often the first to be lost due to decay or fracture. The impact of a missing back tooth on your smile is equally as important in the long run as a front tooth.
There’s a difference between chewing and biting.
While the front teeth are involved in biting, the back teeth are responsible for chewing and breaking down food before its swallowed. These back teeth are powered by the strong jaw (masseter) muscles which are to the back teeth like an engine is to a car.
Chewing is limited by the teeth.
Your jaw muscles are the strongest in the body for their weight. When you eat a piece of steak, they’re ready to help your teeth go to work to prepare it for digestion by chewing. So what happens when you have a missing back molar? Well, those powerful jaw muscles aren’t messin’ around. Their force is impacting the remaining back teeth, their ligaments and the jaw joints. A study done by Chicago Dental University on one thousand people showed that participants stopped chewing because their teeth hurt! Imagine the burden those poor remaining back teeth bear when one of their own is gone.
A missing back tooth compromises chewing function and initiates a cascading series of events over time:
- Remaining teeth, gums, ligaments, joints and jaw muscles are affected.
- Burden of mastication (chewing) is shifted to remaining teeth.
- The unopposed tooth on the opposite side erupts.
- Bone loss sets in, creating cosmetic issues, such as wrinkles around the mouth. Upper and lower lips lose fullness and appear thinner.
- Decrease in facial height as the distance between the tip of the nose and chin reduces and the chin moves forward.
Dr. Pagano has always maintained that: “the primary role of dentistry is to facilitate chewing.”
For this reason, it makes to replace a missing back tooth with a dental implant. It functions like a natural tooth, so restores balanced chewing to the back teeth. Dr. Pagano has simplified the process of getting dental implants by providing all dental implant related procedures in one office since 1999. As a Fellow and Diplomate in Oral Implantology, he is a board-certified oral implantologist, a newly recognized specialty in the field of dentistry.
With advanced technology, including 3D imaging, state-of-the-art sterilization, laser therapy and the most natural dental materials available that are effective, we’ve become the Go-To Center for Tooth Replacement. In that we offer all tooth replacement services, we create customized treatment plans based on our patient’s unique dental condition. Our approach is simply to find out which option works best for our patient, based on his/her dental condition, needs and budget.