You lost a tooth or several teeth. Now what? The worst thing you can do is nothing because that little space in your smile will significantly impact your appearance and oral health. The best answer is to see an experienced Los Angeles dentist. Here at Downtown Dental, we offer several options and will explain the benefits and disadvantages of each so that you can make an informed decision.
Dental implants are usually the treatment of choice for several reasons. They can:
- Help prevent premature facial aging
- Stabilize adjacent teeth
- Preserve bone health
- Last a lifetime
- Improve chewing efficiency
What happens when you lose a tooth?
You are probably most concerned about the cosmetic consequences if the gap is visible. For the loss of a back tooth, you might be bothered most by difficulties chewing. In either case, the full effects of untreated tooth loss are much greater than what you see and feel. Here is what happens:
- Injury to the bone and gums will heal in the first few months. Some degree of gum recession is apparent early on. The missing tooth root leaves a tissue deficit, so the area appears to shrink.
- Bone cells in the area become less active. They are usually stimulated by the tooth root, which absorbs pressure every time you bite down. Much like exercise makes muscles strong, the activity of the tooth root triggers bone regeneration and strengthening. Without this stimulus, the bone begins melting away, a process known as resorption.
- Teeth on either side of the gap are subjected to disproportionate bite force. Meanwhile, bone mass in the area is decreasing, and there is no longer a neighboring tooth for support. The combination of factors causes teeth to lean towards the gap.
- For many of the same reasons mentioned above, coupled with changes in chewing patterns, some remaining teeth are subject to excess wear and tear or an increased risk of fracturing and other damage.
- Cumulatively, the loss of bone and gum tissue, along with worn or leaning teeth, can present a significant change in facial structure. When resting, the jaw might close farther than its natural position, compressing the lower part of the face. Visible effects can include wrinkles, sagging or bunching skin, and changes in the facial profile. Unseen – but often felt – effects include strain on the jaw joint, also known as TMJ (temporomandibular joint), which can cause facial pain, headaches, and more.
Comparing tooth replacement options
Will a restoration help you avoid the problems discussed above? If you choose dental implants, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” Other options will improve oral health but may not address the full spectrum of tooth-loss-related concerns.
Popular restorative treatments include:
- Traditional dentures – If you want a fast, economical solution that can be easily upgraded later, this is it. Full dentures cover an entire arch, usually held stable by suction force against the mouth. Partials replace only a few teeth and attach to other teeth. In either case, the appliance is removable, so you can easily get implants or possibly a bridge later. The mobility of dentures is also their greatest disadvantage. The appliance might slip or feel uncomfortable, and it will not prevent bone resorption.
- Bridgework – This is an option if you have a small number of missing teeth. The bridge is a porcelain replacement tooth attached to dental crowns, placed on adjacent teeth holding it in place. The process is relatively fast and economical, and the result looks natural. A bridge is completely stable, eliminating worries of slippage. The disadvantage to this option is that crown preparation requires permanent tooth alteration. Like dentures, a bridge will not stop bone resorption.
- Implants – Small but mighty, a dental implant is nothing more than a post about the size of a tooth root. It is implanted in the jawbone during a minor oral surgery and functions like a tooth root. One or several implants can be placed, and they can support a variety of custom-made porcelain restorations, including specially designed crowns, bridges, or dentures. Implants are the only restoration that replaces tooth roots and, therefore, the only option that helps stop the resorption of the bone. This treatment most effectively replicates the functionality, health, and appearance of natural teeth. The disadvantage is that treatment may take longer because the bone needs time to fuse with the implant. However, with good oral health, implants can be a “once-and-done” solution, possibly lasting a lifetime.
Although we highly recommend implants, we understand that our patients have varying needs. Therefore, we also offer bridges, dentures, and a full spectrum of other dental services. Let our experienced team help you rediscover the joy of smiling with confidence. Call us at 213-863-9464 and schedule a consultation to learn more about your options.
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Dr. Don Mungcal
Dr. Tara Mavadat
Dr. Ivan Chan
As the cornerstone and founder of Downtown Dental, Dr. Don Mungcal
is a proactive and
exceptionally talented dentist who is determined to contribute to the health and wellbeing of his community by
attending to their dental care needs.
With over 28 years of experience and service, Dr. Mungcal
makes it his responsibility to
be the best version of himself by being his patients’ go-to point for any and all dental concerns. In addition
to being meticulous in his work ethic, he is also an individual who understands development and change. He
updates and informs himself constantly through various continuous educational programs that he undertakes. He
also invests in the latest state-of-the-art technology to provide world-class dental services.
graduated from UCLA
and the University of the Pacific Dental
and is presently a member of several acclaimed medical associations, including the California Dental Society
Dr. Tara Mavadat
was always passionate about
dentistry and is committed to helping patients achieve excellent oral health and beautiful smiles that last
long. Having earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of the Pacific Dugoni School of
Dentistry, she focuses on comprehensive general dentistry with an emphasis on preventive dentistry. Her primary
goals are to provide comfort and quality as well as exceptional esthetic outcomes to every patient.
Dr. Ivan Chan
is enthusiastic about dentistry
and his patients' oral health and is dedicated to providing compassionate and effective care. He is a highly
skilled dentist who received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego. He earned
his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry.
Dr. Chan has extensive training in general dentistry. He focuses on creating lasting smiles while attempting to
prevent gum disease and cavities. He looks forward to assisting you with all your needs while assuring you that
your trust is always in good hands, regardless of your needs!