Your smile is oftentimes the first thing that others notice about you. If you have missing teeth, however, the thought of anyone noticing your grin might be the last thing you want. In fact, sometimes people who have missing teeth go to great lengths to conceal it. For instance, they may avoid smiling, smile with their mouth closed, or even cover their mouth when talking. It’s not that they aren’t friendly, but rather embarrassed of their missing teeth. If this sounds familiar, know that you aren’t alone. The American College of Prosthodontists reports that “more than 35 million Americans do not have any teeth, and 178 million people in the U.S. are missing at least one tooth.” Let’s take a look at some causes of missing teeth, the consequence of not replacing them and how you can affordably replace missing teeth.
What causes missing teeth?
Some of the most common reasons for missing teeth are tooth decay, gum disease, dental injuries, dental extractions, wear and tear, and even genetics. Genetic disorders can prevent your permanent teeth from ever coming in. When six or less permanent teeth fail to develop, it’s known as hypodontia. When more than six permanent teeth fail to develop, it’s known as oligodontia.
Missing teeth can negatively impact a lot of areas of your life. That’s because your teeth play a starring role in proper chewing, word pronunciation, clear communication, confidence, first impressions, job opportunities, and your oral health to name a few. Let’s take a look at how missing teeth can impact some of these different areas.
Missing teeth and job interviews
Imagine that you’ve applied for a job. Your resume fits the bill and your potential future employer wants to schedule an in-person interview. You arrive early and nail all of the questions thrown your way, but don’t get called back. It’s not because you aren’t qualified, but because you didn’t smile in efforts to hide your missing teeth. It may be harsh, but the reality is that snap judgments based on appearance, including someone’s smile and teeth, happen all the time.
CollegeAtlas.org, a resource for college and higher education opportunities, performed a survey of more than 2,000 hiring managers. The survey reports that within 90 seconds of meeting a job candidate, 1/3 of the hiring managers had made a decision about whether they would hire that person. The hiring managers cited not smiling during the job interview as the third most common nonverbal mistake.
Aside from missing teeth impacting your livelihood, there are also oral health concerns that can arise.
Consequences of not replacing missing teeth
You might think that a missing tooth is just that, but there’s more to it. There are three rather interesting things that can happen to your other teeth, gums and jawbone overtime if you don’t replace missing teeth: malocclusion, super eruption and bone resorption. Let’s break down what each of these mean.
In dentistry, the term occlusion refers to your bite. It’s how your upper and lower jaw fit together when chewing or at rest. Malocclusion is essentially a bad bite. Malocclusion can occur when you have missing teeth because the teeth surrounding the gap will shift to try and close it.
When something erupts, it bursts forth like a volcano. Super eruption means the tooth has emerged too far. Super eruption can happen to the teeth opposite of your missing teeth because there isn’t an opposing force to stop it.
Merriam-Webster’s definition of resorb is “to swallow or suck in again” and “to break down and assimilate the components of”. That’s exactly what can happen to your gums and jawbone when you have missing teeth. Without teeth to stimulate the gums and jawbone they begin to wither, creating hollowness to your face.
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Dental care for missing teeth
Due to the cost of dental care, sometimes replacing missing teeth doesn’t seem like an option. The good news is that a dental savings plan makes restoring your missing teeth convenient and affordable. Dental savings plans start at around $80 for an annual individual membership, or just $15 a month.
Plus, you can save anywhere from 10% to 60% off the cost of most dental procedures, including the three common treatment options for missing teeth: bridges, dental implants and partial dentures. Plus, dental savings plans don’t have a waiting period — even for these major dental services. You’ll be able to start using your dental savings plan right away.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to reduce your risk of developing further complications. Restoring your smile can have a positive impact on the way people view you, as well as how you view yourself.