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November 3rd, 2011

The key to dental health is the prevention of dental disease.  Most dental disease is preventable or controllable but, sometimes, even the best efforts result in the loss of a tooth. How important is it to replace a missing tooth?
Think of a 100 pound weight on a 4 legged table.  Each leg is carrying 25 pounds.  Now take away one leg leaving a tripod and each leg carries 33⅓ pounds.  Take away one more leg and the remaining 2 legs support 50 pounds each, double the initial load.
The muscles that power your bite remain pretty much constant regardless of how many teeth are present.  So the loss of a tooth will transfer the force of the bite from that tooth to the remaining teeth.  With a full complement of teeth, the loss of one will probably not cause severe forces on the others, but as more are lost, it increasingly impacts the remaining teeth.
We also know that teeth are constantly moving.  They tend to drift towards the front of the mouth, causing the crowding of the lower front teeth common in adults.  They also continue to erupt out of their sockets if there is no opposing tooth in the bite.  So the loss of a single tooth can lead to dramatic changes in the bite and the function of the teeth around the empty space.
For these reasons it’s important to consider replacing teeth that are lost.        There are many options to do this that your dental team are happy to discuss with you.
Your dentist may suggest a single tooth implant which replaces just the one tooth lost, with no procedures needed on the adjacent teeth.  If this is not indicated, a fixed bridge anchored to the teeth in front and behind the space is also a good solution.  Finally, a removable appliance might be the solution for your case.  Any of these might be the “best” solution for you, and all the factors involved need to be evaluated and discussed with your dental professionals.

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