Removal of teeth is gradually not the first option for a lot of dental issues. However, a large number of dental infections and other causes end in extraction. The front teeth, because of their visibility, are more likely to be replaced. The back teeth often go un-replaced, though they play a higher role in terms of food digestion and function. In many patients, reasons for impaired bite and crooked tooth are traced back to failure to replace a removed tooth.
Let us look at the some of the issues as a result of not replacing a missing tooth.
1. Reduced chewing/digestive efficiency: The back teeth play a significant role in chewing the food and contributing to the initial stage of digestion. The salivary enzymes play a significant role in digestion when the food is chewed and removal of back teeth tends to make people swallow food faster than if good amount of chewing were to happen. Studies show that loss of each posterior tooth (molars especially) reduces tooth efficiency by 10%.
2. Malocclusion: A malocclusion happens due to the empty space created, into which 3 teeth are trying to move. The tooth before and after the empty space tend to slowly tilt towards the empty space in between. Also, the opposing upper or lower tooth supra erupts into this space. Each tooth plays a critical role in maintaining the adjacent and opposing tooth in place, which is lost when a tooth is not replaced after removal.
3. Bone loss: The tooth also is essential for maintaining healthy bone, and if not replaced, it can lead to accelerated loss of alveolar bone. Good bone support is very essential for the construction of dentures, especially in old age, when complete dentures which are almost always removable need to be done. This is true especially in the lower teeth, where denture retention is a big challenge.
4. Extra pressure on other teeth: Not replacing a tooth puts additional pressure on the remaining teeth, leading to accelerated bone loss and wearing off of the enamel.
5. Esthetics: There will be sinking in of the face when back teeth are not replaced, leading to a puckering.
So, the next time, tooth loss is inevitable, ensure you plan how to replace it in the earliest possible time period. The more it is delayed, the more difficult it is to replace it and the more expensive it will turn out for the patient. Fixed dentures or removable dentures can be the options, depending on age, food habits, finances, etc. Implants also could be another option, which is the new-age solution for replacing teeth. A detailed discussion with your dentist ahead of removal will help you plan better.
Pregnancy brings with it a whole lot of body system changes and oral health is no exception. Some simple careful planning, however, can help avoid a lot of oral health complications associated with pregnancy. The hormonal changes during pregnancy have a direct effect on the oral health - higher incidence of decay, pregnancy gingivitis, and pregnancy tumors. Additionally, morning sickness affects the regular oral care, leading to more plaque and decay.
Before pregnancy: If you are planning to get pregnant, then a dental visit can help you get a thorough check-up ahead of the pregnancy. A routine cleaning and check for cavities should be sufficient to avoid any urgent treatment need during the period of pregnancy.
During pregnancy: If you were not able to do your pre-pregnancy dental visit, inform the dentists about pregnancy as early as possible. All elective procedures can be done after the delivery. Only really essential treatment that cannot wait until the delivery should be undertaken during pregnancy, most safe if done during the 4th to 6th months.
Listed below are some points to consider as far as oral/dental health is considered during pregnancy:
1. Scaling and polishing can be done as usual
2. Inform the dentist about all the medications that you are advised by your gynecologist
3. Periodic check-up once in 3 months to reduce severity of gum disease and decay
4. Good oral hygiene measures including brushing, flossing, and rinsing
5. Try a bland toothpaste if morning sickness is very severe
6. Eat a healthy, balanced diet. Tooth formation happens in the third month and requires diet rich in calcium and minerals
7. Avoid sweet snacks which can lead to greater plaque formation
The hormone changes combined with oral infection (could be gum disease or tooth decay) can lead to severe effects on the developing baby. It is extremely important to avoid dental infections, as these may necessitate antibiotics, require x-rays, and even require treatment like root canal and/or extraction, all of which are best avoided until after the baby is delivered. It is considered safe for dental procedures to be done during the 4th to 6th month. Though now there are safer measures to do x-rays and dental procedures, they are best avoided, unless in case of emergency. This emergency situation can be avoided by better planning and some minimal care.
Severe gum disease could also lead to premature or low birth weight of the baby. So plaque buildup should be avoided which leads to both decay and gum disease.
After delivery: After the delivery of the baby, please visit your dentist to ensure you have again ensured there is no emergent dental condition requiring attention. Resume your regular dental care after delivery.