Missing tooth solutions for seniors

Missing tooth solutions for seniors

As we get older, we begin to deeply appreciate that maintaining our oral health is crucial to our enjoyment of everyday life. Tooth loss demoralise us in our efforts, no matter whether it is the result of tooth decay, gum disease or dental trauma. In severe cases, a tooth may require extraction if it can’t be repaired through dental fillings, crowns or other restorations. However, losing a tooth does not need to have a negative impact on life. What you do about it makes all the difference.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the effects of missing teeth and the common tooth replacement options for seniors.

Australian seniors are missing over 13 teeth on average

In 2017–2018, adults aged 65 and over had an average of 13.7 missing teeth. Additionally, the percentage of adults with complete tooth loss rose with age, from 8.1% in the 55–74 age group to 21% among those aged 75 and over. (National Study of Adult Oral Health 2017-2018)

What are the effects of missing teeth?

The impact of missing teeth goes beyond just the physical appearance of your smile. Here are some of the many adverse primary effects of missing teeth:

Chewing and digestion problems:

Missing teeth can make it difficult to properly chew food, resulting in improper digestion. Poorly chewed food can strain the digestive system and reduce nutrient absorption, potentially leading to nutritional deficiencies.

Speech impairments:

Teeth play a crucial role in the formation of speech sounds and words. The absence of teeth, particularly the front teeth, can alter speech patterns, resulting in difficulties with pronunciation and communication.

Altered facial appearance:

Your teeth provide facial structure. When teeth are missing, the jawbone may begin to deteriorate, causing facial shape changes and a sunken appearance.

Bone loss:

The roots of your teeth stimulate the jawbone, preserving its strength and density. When teeth are missing, this stimulation decreases, resulting in gradual bone loss. This can affect your facial structure and make future dental implant placement more difficult.

Adjacent teeth shifting:

When a tooth is missing, the teeth next to it may start to shift or tilt into the empty space. This can lead to misalignment, bite problems and difficulty correctly cleaning the teeth.

Gum and periodontal issues:

Due to exposed areas where teeth are missing, the gums can become more susceptible to irritation and infection. These areas are particularly prone to developing gum disease and periodontal problems.

Self-esteem and confidence:

Missing teeth can result in self-consciousness, lowering your confidence and self-esteem. You may feel awkward when you smile or interact with others.

Joint and bite issues:

Missing teeth can change the proper alignment of your bite, causing problems like temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, headaches and jaw pain.

Oral health complications:

Untreated missing teeth can result in a progression of oral health issues, including gum disease, tooth decay and additional tooth loss. It can lead to a deteriorating state of oral health.

tooth decay

Increased risk of tooth decay:

The presence of gaps between teeth may trap food particles and make cleaning more difficult. This increases the risk of tooth decay and cavities in neighbouring teeth.

Limited food choices:

Certain foods, especially those that require significant chewing, may be difficult to consume if you have missing teeth. This may result in a diet with less variety and possible nutritional deficiencies.

Aesthetic concerns:

While this is generally the most visible effect, the appearance of missing teeth can have an impact on your self-image and how others view you.

It is essential to replace missing teeth to prevent future dental problems and preserve oral health, overall well-being and quality of life.

What are the solutions for missing teeth?

Dentures

Traditional removable option

Dentures have been a popular option for seniors with missing teeth for decades. There are two types of removable replacements: full dentures for those with complete tooth loss and partial dentures for those missing only a few teeth. The advancements in dentistry have resulted in dentures that are more functional and aesthetically pleasing, as well as more comfortable and lifelike.

missing tooth solutions

Dental bridges

Bridging the gap

Seniors often utilise dental bridges as a fixed solution when they are missing one or more adjacent teeth. These artificial teeth are attached to the natural teeth on either side of the gap. Bridges restore proper chewing function and preserve the alignment of the surrounding teeth.

Implant-supported dentures

Enhanced stability

Implant-supported dentures are the optimal solution for seniors desiring the benefits of both dentures and dental implants. These dentures are attached securely to dental implants, ensuring their stability while eating and speaking. This option combines the convenience of dentures with the durability of implants.

Dental Implants

Long-lasting restoration

Dental implants can provide permanent natural-looking replacements for missing teeth. These titanium posts are surgically implanted into the jawbone to serve as a stable foundation for prosthetic teeth. Dental implants restore chewing function and stimulate the jawbone to prevent bone loss over time, which increases in importance as we age.

Bone augmentation

Strengthening the foundation

Some seniors may experience bone loss in the jaw due to missing teeth over time. Bone augmentation, also known as bone grafting, is a procedure that enhances the density of the jawbone. This procedure creates a solid base for dental implants and ensures their long-term success.

Regular dental check-ups

Prevention and maintenance

Prevention is essential for maintaining oral health, particularly for seniors. Regular dental check-ups allow for early detection of potential problems and provide the opportunity to discuss tooth replacement options with your dentist. Your dentist can assist in customising a treatment plan to your specific requirements and desires.

dental check up

Regain your smile, comfort and functionality

Small investments in oral health typically provide massive returns in quality of life. Modern solutions for missing teeth offer a range of options for restoring oral function, appearance and overall well-being. Whether you opt for dental implants, dentures, bridges or a combination of treatments, consulting your dentist is the first step in achieving a more confident smile that lasts throughout your senior years.

Risks and solutions for problematic wisdom teeth

Risks and solutions for problematic wisdom teeth

Did you know that not all wisdom teeth need removal? However, there are cases when these teeth may cause problems such as impaction or infections that need to be treated.

In this blog, we’ll discuss why some wisdom teeth may require removal, what risks they may pose and how to deal with these problems effectively.

Common problems associated with wisdom teeth

Wisdom teeth troubles can cause a range of oral health issues, from tooth pain to severe infections. Some risks associated with wisdom teeth include:

Impaction and misalignment:

When there isn’t enough room for wisdom teeth to come through properly, they can become impacted, which means they don’t fully erupt from the gum. Impacted wisdom teeth can grow at abnormal angles, which can damage nearby teeth or cause a lot of pain.

Gum infections and gum disease:

Wisdom teeth are generally hard to clean because they are in the back of the mouth. This can cause food particles and bacteria to build up around these teeth, which can lead to gum infections and periodontal disease (a disease of the gums).

Tooth decay:

Partially erupted wisdom teeth can be hard to clean thoroughly, which makes them more likely to get cavities. The risk increases when the teeth are positioned in a way that restricts proper cleaning, exposing them to bacterial intrusion and decay.

Cysts and tumours:

When wisdom teeth become impacted, cysts, which are fluid-filled sacs, can form. These cysts can put pressure on the jawbone or nearby teeth, which could cause damage. In rare cases, these teeth can develop tumours around them, which can become a very serious concern.

Systemic impact:

The potential link between oral infections resulting from problematic wisdom teeth and the risk of sepsis is an often-overlooked but critical concern. Sepsis is a rare but severe, life-threatening condition that happens when an infection spreads through the bloodstream and makes its way to all parts of the body. It is crucial to seek treatment when abnormal symptoms are apparent, as it may be urgent to treat an infected or trapped wisdom tooth.

Addressing problems caused by wisdom teeth

wisdom tooth

Regular dental check-ups:

Establishing a routine for dental check-ups gives your dentist the opportunity to closely monitor how your wisdom teeth grow and align together. This meticulous approach makes sure that any potential complications are identified as early as possible, which significantly reduces risks and future problems.

X-ray imaging:

Dental X-rays, specifically panoramic X-rays (OPG), can show you exactly where your wisdom teeth are and how they fit in with the structure of your mouth. This can help you and your dentist make more informed decisions about your oral health and treatment options.

Expert consultation:

When you have questions or concerns about your wisdom teeth, your dentist can provide professional guidance and informed suggestions. Dental professionals know a lot about oral health and hygiene, and can give you advice and recommendations that are suitable for you.

Extraction:

Wisdom teeth that are causing problems or seem likely to do so are often good candidates for removal. This preventative method helps keep your mouth healthy and comfortable in the long run by preventing buildups of food or bacteria, infections, crowding (malocclusion) and other problems.

Anaesthesia and sedation:

Your personalised anaesthetic options will depend on your individual comfort and anxiety levels, as well as the complexity of the extraction procedure. Your dentist will ensure to provide a safe, comfortable and relaxing environment for you during your treatment.

Tailored care instructions:

Your dentist prioritises your oral and overall health in the clinic, as well as outside of the dental chair. When you undergo a wisdom tooth removal procedure, your dentist will give you detailed guidance on what to expect and how to take care of yourself afterwards. Their professional advice will assist with a speedy recovery and reduce the risk of post-procedure problems.

dental check up

Prevent wisdom teeth problems

Get help from your dentist and act quickly if something doesn’t seem right with your oral health, especially where wisdom teeth are involved. Regular 6-monthly dental check-ups and open discussions with your dentist are the best ways to diagnose and treat any dental problems. Remember that everyone’s case is different, and a personalised approach to managing your wisdom teeth can give you a healthier, more comfortable smile for years to come.

If you think your wisdom teeth might be causing problems, don’t hesitate to consult with your dentist for guidance and solutions.

The highest risk factors for tooth decay in children

The highest risk factors for tooth decay in children

Poor oral care and hygiene can lead to toothache and pain, with child tooth decay being the most prevalent oral condition among Australian children today. Approximately 42% of children aged 5 to 10 years old have experienced tooth cavities. While there are a range of socio-economic factors – including social, economic, cultural and environmental factors – affecting the oral health of Aussie kids, tooth decay is basically caused by accumulations of pathogenic oral bacteria.

The type of oral bacteria that cause tooth decay feed on food residue left on teeth after eating refined carbohydrate sugars and starches. These include soft drinks, dried fruits, candy, cake, cookies, fruit drinks, cereals and sweet breads. Oral bacteria metabolise these carbohydrates and produce bacterial acids. As more bacteria and acid is produced, it combines with saliva to form sticky bacterial plaque which spreads over tooth chewing surfaces and the gum line.

Over time, the bacterial acid damages tooth enamel. Once the bacterial acid penetrates the tooth enamel, it starts to damage the dentine inner layer inside the tooth to cause a cavity.

Risk factors for child tooth decay

The factors that significantly increase the risk of a child experiencing tooth decay include:

  • High levels of pathogenic oral bacteria causing tooth decay, including Streptococcus Mutans (S. Mutans) and Lactobacillus spp., which are present during cavity onset and development.
  • A diet high in sugars and starches, especially sweet drinks.
  • Non-fluoridated home water supply.
  • Poor oral care and hygiene.
  • Reduced saliva flow.
  • Acidic or low pH saliva.

Signs & symptoms of child tooth decay

Keep in mind that children may not even experience any symptoms of tooth decay until a dental visit. So, late detection of tooth decay is also a risk factor. Early signs and symptoms of tooth decay to look out for include:

  • Chalky white spots on tooth enamel show decalcification.
  • Early cavities have a light brown colour.
  • Deepening cavities have a dark brown or black colour.
  • Toothache and pain.
  • Sensitivity to food and temperature.
Composite bonding / veneers / edge bonding – the conservative tooth repair solution

Composite bonding / veneers / edge bonding – the conservative tooth repair solution

What is composite bonding?

Composite bonding, composite veneers or edge bonding are dental techniques used when your dentist applies a tooth-coloured resin to the full frontal surface or the edges (i.e. tips and sides) of the teeth. You can also receive composite bonding and composite veneers as parts of the same treatment plan.

What dental issues can composite bonding treat?

Composite bonding is a really versatile, gentle and conservative dental treatment used to fix chipped teeth, close gaps, change the shape and size of teeth, and alter a tooth’s colour and shade.

Whether bonding is used over traditional veneers depends on what issues you have regarding your defective teeth. This includes what shape, size, shape and position you want in the final result. For example, if you have a few minor chips but are still happy with the shape and colour of your teeth, then composite edge bonding is a highly recommended treatment option.

However, if you’re looking to correct more complex issues such as the shape or size of teeth, alignment, and/or want them looking whiter, then covering the full surfaces of a tooth to build up a composite veneer may be recommended.

Composite bonding is getting more and more popular as a more affordable alternative to porcelain veneers. It’s also a more conservative and less invasive treatment that requires minimal preparation of your natural teeth and removal of tooth structure and enamel.

Are you suitable for composite bonding treatment?

Your suitability for composite bonding treatment is dependent on what results you want to achieve and how healthy your teeth are. These factors can only be assessed via a thorough oral examination in the dental chair.

During this examination, your dentist will assess your teeth, gums and bite. If you have any dental issues, such as tooth decay, cavities or gum disease, these oral conditions should be treated prior to commencing composite bonding treatment. Likewise, if you clench or grind your teeth, resolving these issues may be required before any cosmetic work can be done.

Additionally, if your teeth are misaligned, then you may need to have orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign. If you don’t have your teeth straightened first, then your final results may be compromised in the long term. It’s also a recommended to complete a teeth whitening session before composite bonding or veneer treatment since the colour of the resin cannot be altered once cured.

Why do you need retainers after teeth straightening?

Why do you need retainers after teeth straightening?

Most people are unaware of the effects mouth breathing has on orthodontic treatment until after they get their teeth straightened or realigned. Whether they have received braces or Invisalign aligner treatment, a relapse usually occurs to some degree, even after a 100% successful realignment. In the event of a relapse – where the straightened teeth start to gradually shift back towards their original positions – retainers may need to be worn temporarily to allow supportive gum tissue more time to strengthen and stabilise realigned teeth. However, there is another potential risk factor that may be constantly forcing realigned teeth to shift back – how you breathe and your tongue posture.

The tongue – nature’s perfect retainer for straight teeth

Long before the availability of braces or aligner treatments to straighten teeth, nature provided the perfect “retainer” to ensure that your teeth develop and erupt evenly – your tongue. In opposition to the inward forces exerted by the cheek muscles (buccinators), your tongue provides an opposing lateral force that pushes the teeth out. When both forces are equally balanced at approximately 500 gm and your dental arches are well developed, your primary teeth should erupt evenly in all their proper positions during childhood.

How mouth breathing causes straightened teeth to shift back

If you are a mouth-breather – as opposed to a nasal-breather – your bottom jaw sits lower which results in low tongue posture. This leaves your upper jaw (maxilla) without the support and outward force required to counteract the cheek muscles’ inward forces. Without this counterbalancing effect, the inward force exertion causes the arches to narrow during development thus creating a narrow arch, less space for erupting teeth and misaligned or crowded teeth as a result. Now, when you jump forward in time to the teen or adult that has received orthodontic treatment, it is important to understand the very same oral forces that have caused teeth misalignment issues during development are probably still in play after treatment. 

Orthotropic treatment can help minimise the need for retainers

While orthodontic treatment such as braces and aligners focuses on straightening teeth, orthotropic treatment focuses on rectifying breathing and postural habits that cause teeth to misalign in the first place. When children and teens receive orthotropic treatment, adopting new mouth and tongue postural habits can improve their oral development. This can result in better teeth alignment all the way into adulthood. However, just because you’re an adult receiving orthodontic treatment, it doesn’t mean you’ve missed out on all the benefits of orthotropics. By simply ensuring that you breathe through your nose, keep your mouth closed and position your tongue correctly on the palate of the mouth, you can help minimise the forces acting against your newly positioned and straightened teeth. This allows supportive ligaments to strengthen and stabilise teeth in their sockets sooner rather than later – and less time spent wearing retainers!

Straight teeth can improve your oral health

Straight teeth can improve your oral health

People want straighter teeth for a number of reasons, including improving one’s cosmetic appearance and smile-confidence. But did you know that straighter teeth can improve your oral health?

The health benefits of straight teeth

Recent research shows that people who have straighter teeth and a properly aligned bite have better oral health, and a lower risk of periodontal disease (or gum disease) than those with crooked or crowded teeth. One major benefit of having straighter teeth is easier cleaning, which can reduce the risk of tooth decay, gum disease, loss of teeth and jaw issues. A properly aligned bite prevents uneven and excess wear to tooth enamel. You’re also going to be able to chew your food more effectively for better digestion, nutritional intake and better overall health.

Orthodontics – dental treatment to straighten teeth

The area of dentistry that specialises in correcting crooked or crowded teeth and overbites is called orthodontics or orthodontic treatment. And a dentist that provides orthodontic treatment is called an orthodontist. At Leeming Dental, Dr. Sonny Lee and Dr. Sashika Fernando are our resident orthodontists!

Orthodontic treatments – how to get straight teeth

Modern Orthodontics offers many kinds of braces for children, teens & adults, including:

  • Traditional braces/Metal braces – Getting metal braces is the traditional way to straighten teeth. They are quick and efficient, and utilise metal brackets and wire to reposition your teeth.
  • Ceramic braces /White braces – Ceramic braces utilise brackets and wires that are made of tooth-coloured or clear ceramics.
  • Invisible aligners – Invisalign consists of an 18 to 30 step treatment plan that utilises clear mouthguard-like aligners that are replaced fortnightly.
  • Lingual braces – Lingual braces are similar to metal braces, except they are attached to & pull in from the inside surfaces of the teeth.

Maintain your straighter teeth with RETAINERS

After your orthodontic treatment, it takes time for your teeth to learn their new positions, and to seat properly. Trouble is, they may start to drift back to their original positions, and get crooked or crowded again. That’s where retainers come in. Removable or fixed retainers help keep your teeth in their new positions after orthodontic treatment. Retainers are the best way to protect your investment in your teeth, and are typically worn 1 or 2 nights a week but everyone is different. You just need to follow your Leeming Dental orthodontist’s recommendation to ensure that your teeth stay straight and healthy for life!