The Impact of Tooth Loss – Phillip SilverNews
Posted by: The Probe 2nd November 2017
Tooth loss is steadily declining in the UK and the retention of at least a few natural teeth is fairly usual in people of pensionable age. However, tooth decay and periodontal diseases are significantly prevalent and remain the most common reasons for tooth mortality. Cigarette smoking, certain diseases and their treatments, undue stress or dental trauma can lead to tooth displacement or loss and, as functional dentition decreases with age, around 14% of UK adults have less than 21 natural teeth.
Research suggests that having less than nine or ten pairs of contacting teeth is associated with impaired masticatory efficiency, performance and ability. This can also influence or restrict the diet and it has been revealed that individuals with 21 teeth or more consume more key nutrients than those without. Similarly, along with the lips and tongue, the teeth are also essential for forming certain phonetic sounds and tooth loss can cause problems with speech.
The most obvious effect of missing teeth is aesthetic. However, gaps are not only unsightly. The health and stability of the remaining teeth surrounding any empty spaces are at risk of becoming mobile, loose, difficult to clean and more susceptible to decay. Additionally, if there is lack of stimulation from the teeth loss of alveolar bone and gum tissue can occur. When the alveolar bone loses height and width the jawbone also begins to resorb, and with it, the structure and support of the face. This results in the familiar aged facial appearance of many partly or totally edentulous patients.
Dental professionals should not underestimate the emotional consequences of tooth loss either. When patients are embarrassed to speak, smile or eat in front of others it results in problems with communication and interaction, which may lead to isolation, sadness, loneliness and depression. With appearance significantly contributing to self-esteem as well as the stigma associated with tooth loss, missing teeth can alter self-image, lower self-esteem and affect confidence levels. In fact, tooth loss can reveal emotional reactions including bereavement, loss of self-confidence, behaviour change, the need for prosthodontic privacy and concerns about appearance and ageing.
Although some people may be able to accept the loss of their teeth around 45% of patients feel unprepared for the consequences.8 Therefore, it is important that patients are prepared sensitively. Dental professionals can assist patients significantly and enable them to prepare emotionally by taking a flexible approach to discussions and explanations and allowing patients time to absorb information.
It is usual that patients will ask how missing teeth can be replaced and practitioners should explain all the available options carefully. In many cases dentists prefer to recommend dental implants to replace teeth and prevent bone loss. However, the cost can be an issue for patients and equally efficient but less expensive options should be offered. Comfortable, well fitting removable partial dentures (RPD) can improve appearance, contribute to oral function and health and also enhance self-esteem and psychological wellbeing.
Traditionally prosthetic teeth are fixed to a plastic plate or metal framework, with metal clasps to keep the denture in place. Flexible dentures made from non-porous resin are also available. But new to the market is a material that has been specifically developed for removable denture frames, Ultaire™ AKP made by Solvay Dental 360™. This is a high performance polymer, which is thin and lightweight but has the elasticity, stability and strength to withstand loading. Ultaire™ AKP is biocompatible and has a bone-like feel which patients find pleasant and comfortable. Frames fabricated from this material also have tooth coloured clasps to improve aesthetics and are uniquely designed for a superior fit that could limit future bone loss.
It is essential to effectively prepare patients for tooth loss and ensure that they are fully informed and aware of the innovative replacement options that British dentistry has to offer.
For more information about Solvay Dental 360™, Ultaire™ AKP and Dentivera™ milling discs, please visit www.solvaydental360.com
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