Importance of Saving the Tooth

Cosmetic_DentistryToday’s cosmetic dentistry patient has options for maintaining their smile that would astonish their great-grandparents. For much of recorded history, losing one’s teeth was a feared but somewhat inevitable outcome of old age (and occasionally of an accident or illness). But since the advent of removable dentures, dental implants, and restorations such as fixed bridges or partial dentures, we now have many ways we can keep our smile looking good, and our mouth healthy, even after tooth loss or extraction.

With so many cosmetic dentistry options available, one might ask, why is it important for a patient to worry about saving their natural teeth? Can’t the replacement options developed over the last century or so do exactly the same job?

Well, yes and no. Yes, in the sense that cosmetic dentistry procedures can provide patients with life-changing options once they’ve lost their teeth. But there is great value to keeping our natural teeth, and here are a few reasons why.

Important roles our natural teeth play

  1. Natural teeth help us chew our food completely. In a healthy mouth, the ligament that binds a tooth in its socket provides sensory feedback that helps to control your jaw’s movements (direction, speed, amount of force), especially when you eat.
  2. Natural teeth assist us in speaking clearly. Missing teeth can impact how we speak, since the formation of many words involves the tongue and teeth working together to make the sound.
  3. Natural teeth keep our jawbone healthy. One of the most insidious effects of losing teeth, particularly if we end up losing an entire arch of them, is that our jawbone will start to shrink, a process called resorption.
  4. Natural teeth preserve the appearance of the lower-third of our face. When our jaws experience bone loss after tooth loss, it sets in motion a series of changes in our appearance. The distance from nose to chin decreases and with it, the lower third of the face partially collapses. The chin rotates forward and upward, and the cheeks, having lost tooth support, become hollow.

“While practitioners of cosmetic dentistry have a variety of ways to assist patients who have lost their natural teeth, we also have just as many if not more ways to help you preserve your teeth – everything from cleanings and treatments that improve your oral health, to crowns, which provide support to a challenged natural tooth,” says Dr. Carol Ford, a cosmetic dentist with a practice in central Phoenix.

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