WHAT HAPPENS NEXT
• You’ll be booked in for a tooth extraction procedure and your dentist will spend time with you to discuss the best choice for tooth replacement.
• There are different types of dentures and lots of other options to replace your missing tooth. These include:
Partial dentures are used to replace one or more teeth and clip onto your remaining teeth.
A removable set of teeth used when all of your upper or lower teeth need to be removed..
Your new artificial tooth is cemented to the remaining teeth on either side and it’s not removable.
Like a bridge, an implant is not removable – a titanium root that mimics your natural root is surgically placed into the bone beneath your gum and then a prosthetic tooth is attached.
• Which of the options you choose may depend on cost, the health of your gums and bone, and which tooth (or teeth) is being removed. For example, if your gums aren’t healthy or you have bone loss, a dental implant may not be suitable. It is a good, long-lasting option if your gums and bone are healthy, if you’re only replacing a small number of teeth and you can afford it.
• Removable dentures are generally the most economical option and dental implants the most expensive.
WHY YOU NEED TO REPLACE YOUR MISSING TOOTH
Putting off the decision to replace a missing tooth may cause your remaining teeth to shift, affecting your bite and appearance, and it can also cause decay and gum disease from trapped food. Follow the advice of your dentist if they tell you a replacement needs to go in.
THE EMOTIONAL SIDE OF TOOTH LOSS
As well as dealing with the physical aspects of losing a tooth, it can come with emotional struggles too. You may feel angry, worried, powerless, sad, guilty – all of these feelings are entirely normal.
Your teeth are part of your body and identity, and affect how you eat and communicate, so it’s OK to turn your thoughts to how tooth loss will impact on your life. Whether you choose a denture, bridge or dental implant, it’s not your natural tooth, so allow yourself time to get used to it.
IF YOU CHOOSE DENTURES…
• As the experts on caring for dentures, we can tell you that if you choose that option to replace your teeth, any challenges you’ll face are temporary and can be overcome in time with the guidance of your dentist and the bank of content we’ve developed to help support you through this journey.
• Worldwide, about one in five people wear dentures, which means that several people you know are probably wearing them right now. ‘I thought that none of my sisters wore dentures,’ says Asher Robinson, 59, who wears them after an accident knocked out her two front teeth. ‘But when I got my dentures, one of them admitted to me that she’s got a side-denture!’
• They’re not the preserve of elderly people – nearly half of all denture wearers are under the age of 60. ‘I associated dentures with my mum because she had a full set,’ says Asher. ‘For me, dentures meant old people. But now that I wear them, I don’t think of them as an old-people thing. If you have to have them, you have to have them!’
LIFE WILL GO BACK TO NORMAL
Getting dentures takes some getting used to, but millions of people do it every day and live happy, normal lives. ‘I found wearing dentures very easy to get used to,’ says Wendy Fisher, 64. ‘It’s very comfortable – I notice when it’s not there, but not when it’s in. It doesn’t affect the way I eat or what I eat, so I go out and eat, drink, smile, laugh, whatever – it’s not a problem, it’s very positive.’
Advances in the way that dentures are made means that they look the same as enamel teeth and they’ll be color-matched to your existing teeth, so it’s entirely up to you whether you divulge to friends and family that you’re a denture wearer.
Initially, eating and speaking can take some getting used to and you’ll need to make allowances for that, such as eating softer foods and practicing speaking with your dentures in, but there is plenty of help available on this site to see you through that journey with ease. You will eat in public, laugh with friends, give presentations and go on dates. Everything is possible.
Almost a quarter of the UK population say that they feel embarrassment due to the condition of their mouth and teeth. If you can relate to this, you may find that replacing your missing tooth actually improves your quality of life.
‘Getting dentures made a huge change to my life,’ says David Clement-Horton, 51, who had three of his top front teeth removed. ‘They gave me the ability to smile –now I smile happily. Being a singer on stage, I have to smile a lot but, before, I was always self-conscious of the gap in my teeth that kept getting bigger.’
YOUR ACTION PLAN
• You may have been too overwhelmed by the news of your tooth loss to fully absorb information given to you by your dentist, but now is the time to take back control by arming yourself with as much knowledge as possible. The power is in your hands.
• Before your next appointment, research the types of tooth replacement and their cost so that you can have a full and informed discussion with your dentist, and also note down any questions you have on the effects of tooth loss after your tooth extraction procedure.
• Take a pen and paper with you so that you or a friend/family member can note down the answers. Feeling informed and prepared will enable you to face this upcoming life event in a positive and proactive way.