Knowing what to do when you lose a tooth gives you the best treatment outcome.

When you lose or damage your keys or glasses, you take immediate action to remedy the problem. After all, they’re important! If you can’t find or fix them, you call an expert to have them replaced as soon as possible. Just like there are many ways you might lose or damage important items, there are also many reasons you might lose a permanent tooth.

When you lose a permanent tooth, though, it’s even more important to call an expert—in this case, your dentist—to address the underlying issue. Doing so right away ensures that you get the best care possible right when you need it. We know that permanent tooth loss can be an overwhelming and emotional experience, so we want to make treatment as simple and anxiety-free as possible for you! To help you understand potential causes for your tooth loss as well as your options moving forward, we’ve put together a guide on what you can do after you’ve lost a permanent tooth.

Reasons for Missing Teeth

When you lose a permanent tooth, there’s a wide range of potential causes. Each cause impacts your oral health—and potentially your overall health—differently. As a result, the underlying problem often needs to be treated differently as well. In each case, however, you should always call your Reading, MA, dentist immediately to schedule an emergency dental appointment.

Cavities

A cavity occurs when oral bacteria begin eating their way through your tooth enamel, which is the hard coating that protects your teeth. When cavities are discovered early, they can usually be treated with a simple dental filling, but untreated cavities can do severe damage to your teeth—including causing you to lose the tooth! A poor diet or oral hygiene routine is often the culprit for cavities, but they can also be caused by failing dental fillings or restorations like crowns. Minor cavities can be painless, but severe cavities can lead to tooth sensitivity (particularly to temperature changes or sweet foods), toothaches, or a change in the color of a tooth.

Gum Disease

When bacteria begin attacking your gum line, it leads to gum disease. There are two types of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontitis. Gingivitis is less serious and can often be treated at home with a great oral hygiene routine—including flossing—but periodontitis is an advanced stage of gum disease where bacteria have made it underneath your gum line. Once there, bacteria begin attacking the supporting structures of your teeth, leading to permanent tooth loss if it goes untreated.

Bacteria can also enter your bloodstream from underneath your gums, leading to increased overall health risks as well. Poor oral hygiene, or even simply neglecting to floss, is a major cause of periodontal disease, but other factors that increase your risk include age, hormonal changes, and habits like smoking. It’s easy to overlook the signs of periodontitis because, more often than not, it’s painless, but symptoms could include swollen or darkened gums that bleed easily.

Injury or Trauma

Another main cause of permanent tooth loss is injury or trauma. This might occur due to a sport or car accident—or even just during a clumsy moment! The good news is that if your permanent tooth is knocked out, there’s a chance that your dentist could reimplant the tooth in its socket. For this to be possible, however, you need to take certain steps, including calling and scheduling an emergency dental appointment right away as well as handling and transporting the tooth properly. Arriving at our office within 30 minutes of having your tooth knocked out, gives your dentist the best chance of being able to save your permanent tooth!

Dental Solutions

Thankfully, modern dentistry provides you with plenty of treatment options when you’ve lost one or more teeth! These solutions aim to restore the function and appearance of your teeth while protecting your oral health by preventing your teeth from shifting into the new gap. Which solution is best for you depends on several factors, from the cause of your missing permanent tooth to your unique treatment needs and goals.

Periodontal Treatments

If you lost a permanent tooth due to gum disease, you’ll need periodontal treatments to restore the health of your gums before you can replace your missing tooth. There’s a range of potential nonsurgical and surgical treatments to clean bacteria from the roots of your teeth, but which is right for you depends on the severity of your case. Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics or recommend an antibacterial mouthwash to help lower your risk of infection during the treatment process. Periodontal disease can cause permanent gum recession, so you may also need gum recontouring in the future.

Dental Implants

Whether you’ve lost a single permanent tooth or multiple teeth, dental implants are a great treatment option. They’re made of a titanium metal rod that’s inserted directly into your jaw bone like a natural tooth root before being fitted with a custom-made tooth restoration. Implants can be fitted with a single crown or with a bridge, partial dentures, or full dentures.

They mimic natural teeth in many ways, providing the natural stability you need to eat whatever you want. They truly look and feel like natural teeth! Their deep-rooted stability also protects your jaw bone from bone loss—something no other tooth-loss remedy can do. While you can’t get your natural teeth back, dental implants provide the next best thing for your smile’s function, appearance, and even its long-term health.

Bridges

A dental bridge is a good tooth-loss remedy if you’ve lost one or two teeth. This restoration is made up of one or two prosthetic teeth that are supported by a dental crown on either end. Each dental crown is secured into place over one of the healthy teeth at the edge of the gap in your smile. They function as the foundation of your bridge, holding the prosthetic teeth in place. This restores the function of your teeth, letting you eat and speak normally again, in addition to restoring your smile’s appearance. Just like other permanent tooth restorations, bridges are custom-made for you, so they blend in with your natural teeth.

Dentures

If you’ve lost many of your teeth, you may want to begin looking into dentures. There are several types of dentures, from partial dentures to full dentures, that can be placed on your upper arch, lower arch, or both. They’re custom-made for you out of high-quality materials to ensure that they fit your needs, look just like natural teeth, and fit perfectly without slipping out of place.

Missing multiple teeth can have a huge impact on your daily life, from the function of your teeth to the appearance of your smile, so dentures can have just as big of a positive impact, making tasks like eating and giving a friendly smile to strangers simple again!

Prevent Future Tooth Loss

Even if you’ve lost a permanent tooth, there’s good news: there are plenty of easy steps you can take to ensure that you don’t lose more! Practicing a great oral hygiene routine at home is an essential part of preventing cavities and gum disease. This includes brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and using mouthwash once or twice a day.

Making regular dental appointments is also a huge part of preventing future tooth loss. These appointments give your local Reading, MA, dentist the chance to spot and treat any future cavities, gum disease, or failing dental restorations when the issue is still minor. The professional cleanings you get at the dentist also actively help prevent cavities and gum disease by removing plaque and hardened tartar, the latter of which you can’t remove from your teeth at home.

If you suffer from dental anxiety or are worried about paying for potential dental treatments, don’t worry! Your health is our foremost concern, so we’re here to help you navigate concerns like this. Don’t be afraid to discuss your dental anxiety with your dentist, as you can work together to find options that will help you reduce and manage your dental anxiety to ensure that you get the care you need. We’ll also work with you to help you finance the treatments and regular care you need. Plus, regular dental appointments actually save you money by lowering the chances that you’ll need more expensive dental treatments in the future.

Losing a permanent tooth is never ideal, but it doesn’t have to be the end for your oral health. Just like a locksmith can create a new set of keys for you, dentists have many tools at their disposal to help you restore your oral health and replace your missing tooth. With so many options, you’re sure to find a treatment that fits your unique needs, preferences, and budget. If you’d like to learn more about tooth loss and what you can do to replace missing teeth, feel free to call and schedule an appointment with the First Dental Associates team at any time.