We tend to associate braces with crooked teeth, but there are many other factors that play a role in your orthodontic treatment, such as your overall oral health. Starting a braces treatment cannot happen overnight. Braces will only help you achieve that dazzling smile in certain circumstances!
One of those circumstances is the number of teeth in your oral cavity. With the advancement of dental technology, braces are becoming a more popular option for straightening teeth and improving dental health for people of all ages.
In contrast, the thought of getting braces can make braces intimidating. Because of this, many potential patients wonder whether braces can be worn with missing teeth and/or if braces can close a gap left by missing teeth. It is undeniable that these questions are relevant, which is why today’s article will provide clear, helpful answers!
The Reasons Behind a Missing Tooth
According to a 2015 survey, only half of American adults have all of their permanent teeth. In addition, one in five senior adults has all their teeth missing! Most commonly missing teeth include wisdom teeth, upper lateral incisors, and second premolars.
Several factors contribute to these alarming statistics, including congenital tooth loss, which has been linked to inheritable genetic traits or disorders. Research indicates that 2-8% of the general population has congenitally missing teeth or hypodontia.
Secondly, we have non-hereditary tooth loss caused by:
- Gum disease, periodontitis, and tooth decay
- Injuries caused by accidents (e.g., sports injuries)
Can a Missing Tooth Affect Your Overall Oral Health?
The primary concern when losing a tooth is aesthetics — What will I look like without my perfect smile? But the effects of missing teeth go beyond aesthetics.
A missing tooth will cause the adjacent teeth to jump into action, trying to fill the gap themselves. This process will loosen the adjacent teeth, further exacerbating the problem. Misaligned teeth may also result from a missing tooth.
A second issue to prepare for is the upcoming period of pain and discomfort. With the remaining teeth no longer able to rest or bite against their opposites, tooth overeruption and gum damage can result. So be prepared to suffer from headaches, chronic facial pain, and even temporomandibular joint (TMJ) inflammation.
Third, if you lose a tooth for an extended period of time, the risk of jaw bone atrophy increases. Bone density decreases as the jaw is no longer stimulated by biting or chewing. Moreover, if you are missing molar teeth, the sinus cavity in your upper back jaw will expand and cause even more erosion of the jaw bone.
Lastly, regarding aesthetics, missing teeth will alter your facial structure, resulting in sunken cheeks or smile lines (i.e., wrinkles around your mouth).
Can You Get Braces With Missing Teeth?
There is no reason why patients cannot undergo orthodontic treatment with missing braces! In addition to straightening crooked teeth, braces also correct overbites, underbites, and crossbites. You can also start your orthodontic treatment with braces as soon as possible to reduce pain and discomfort associated with missing teeth (such as jaw pain, headaches, bone loss, gum disease, and tooth decay).
To guarantee success with braces, your orthodontist may recommend additional restorative dentistry procedures. The gaps created by missing teeth will finally be filled as your teeth gradually return to proper alignment. The orthodontic treatment approach for each patient depends on their oral health and specific circumstances, so only an orthodontic consultation can help you determine the right approach.
Can Braces Close a Missing Tooth Gap?
As long as the existing teeth are not present as the root structure for braces to move, the gap will remain intact (i.e., the surrounding teeth will not shift towards it). In order for braces treatment to be successful, your teeth must be too small or misaligned to cause the interdental gap.
What Are My Options for Closing a Missing Tooth Gap With Braces?
Even though filling gaps with missing teeth is beyond the scope of braces, orthodontists utilize a variety of techniques to accomplish this goal:
- Unlike traditional dental bridges, dental implants are made of titanium screws that are placed into the jawbone and act as the tooth’s root. Once the titanium screws are placed, a crown is placed over the implant, giving the artificial tooth a natural appearance.
- Dental bridges are restorative dentistry procedures that involve attaching a replacement tooth to an adjacent tooth with dental crowns. Dental bridges blend seamlessly with any surrounding teeth if the missing tooth is visible.
- Partial dentures are removable appliances designed to replace one or more missing teeth. In addition to fitting over the gums, removable partial dentures are attached to replacement teeth. Removable partial dentures are a great option if you need a versatile way to replace your missing teeth!
Can a Child With Several Missing Teeth Get Braces?
An interceptive orthodontic treatment at an early age would be an excellent idea! Your children should get braces between the ages of seven and eight, when their primary teeth, adult teeth, and interdental spaces are all part of their oral cavity. When missing teeth are treated early on with braces, the remaining teeth will have enough space to properly erupt while realigning the existing teeth. As a result, your child will face fewer problems in the future if they start their orthodontic treatment early!
How About Clear Retainers With Missing Teeth?
What is my only orthodontic option if I have missing teeth? Certainly not! For patients with oral health issues, such as chronic gum disease or severe tooth decay, clear retainers such as Invisalign or SPARK are often preferred. Clear retainers can be removed, so patients can brush and floss more effectively without wires or brackets hindering them!
Start Your Orthodontic Treatment at Loudoun Orthodontics!
Contact Loudoun Orthodontics if you think braces are the solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of braces or have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (703) 858-0303 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today to book a complimentary orthodontic consultation! Our office, located at 19465 Deerfield Ave, Suite 304, Leesburg, VA 20176, proudly serves not just Loudoun County but also the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Ashburn, Lansdowne, or Sterling, and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Virginia, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!