Do Extracted Teeth Always Need to Be Replaced With Dentures?
You have a molar or another tooth that the dentist cannot save. The only option is to extract it. Now you have to decide if anything will take the place of that missing tooth. Do you really have to replace it with anything? Here are some of the options that you can explore:
No Replacement At All
While most dental professionals will recommend some kind of replacement for your missing tooth, the fact is that you don’t have to invest in any type of denture or implant. If you like, there is the choice of allowing the socket to heal and leaving the space empty. This may even be the best move you could make.
Perhaps you have molars that are crowded on that side of your mouth. Removing the damaged one helps to thin out the crowding. You may find that the remaining ones seem to fill in the vacant space over time, or that you don’t mind chewing with a small gap on that side of the mouth. In this scenario, feel free to do without any type of replacement.
What if the Space is Easily Seen?
Doing without a bridge, partial denture, or implant is fine when the tooth in question is in the back of the mouth. What if the damaged tooth happens to be front and center? Your smile will definitely be off. That could make you more self-conscious and cause you to miss out on social occasions or seeking a promotion at work that would require you to be in front of people.
Stand in front of a mirror and smile broadly. Can you see the empty space easily? If you notice the gap, you can bet that others will also. In this case, it does pay to talk with your dentist about some sort of replacement. If it’s a single tooth, an implant is likely to be a better choice than a denture.
How About the Contour of Your Face?
Most people don’t realize what a difference teeth make to the contour of the face until those teeth are gone. Without something to fill in the space recently vacated by the tooth roots, it’s just a matter of time before the lower part of the face takes on a sunken look. If you are comfortable with that, do nothing.
People who want to preserve the shape of their faces would do well to consider a replacement that will fill in the space left empty after one or more teeth are removed. Implants will do the job nicely since they are embedded in the gums. Dentures won’t stop the shifting and sinking since they rest on top of the gums.
Is Bruxism a Concern?
Some people who have teeth extracted and don’t replace them sometimes develop bruxism. This is grinding the teeth, usually during sleep. The grinding action weakens the enamel on the remaining teeth and can lead to chipping.
If you choose to not replace the teeth, talk with your dentist about getting a mouth guard. This is a device you can slip into your mouth before you go to bed. It will not interfere with your sleep, but the guard does create a barrier that prevents grinding.
The bottom line is that no one can force you to replace an extracted tooth. In some cases, a replacement is not necessary or practical. Talk with your dentist about the outcome of living with the empty socket compared to being fitted for a denture, bridge, or implant. Once you have all the facts and understand how they relate to you, it will be easier to make the right choice.