Starting a braces treatment cannot happen overnight. We’re so accustomed to associating braces with crooked teeth that we forget the myriad of other factors playing a part in your orthodontic treatment, such as your overall oral health. Therefore, only in specific circumstances will braces help you have that dazzling smile you’ve been dreaming of!
The number of teeth in your oral cavity is one of those circumstances. As dental technology advances, braces are becoming an increasingly popular option for people of all ages to straighten their teeth and improve their oral health. However, the prospect of getting braces can be daunting if you’re dealing with missing teeth. That is why many potential patients wonder if they can get braces with missing teeth and or if braces can close a gap left by a missing tooth. The relevancy of these questions is indisputable, which is why today’s article will provide clear, helpful answers on whether you can get braces with missing teeth!
The Reasons Behind a Missing Tooth
If you think you’re the only one dealing with missing teeth, think again. A 2015 survey uncovered that only half of the American adults had all of their permanent teeth. Even worse, close to 1 in 5 senior adults had lost all of their teeth! Wisdom teeth, upper lateral incisors, and second premolars are the most commonly missing teeth.
The reasons behind these worrisome statistics are numerous. First, we have congenital tooth loss attributed to inheritable genetic traits or disorders. Research shows that 2-8% of the general population is dealing with congenitally missing teeth or hypodontia.
Second, we have non-hereditary tooth loss, caused by:
- Gum disease, periodontitis, and tooth decay (directly linked to poor oral health)
- Accidents (e.g., sports injuries)
Can a Missing Tooth Affect Your Overall Oral Health?
The foremost issue that comes to mind when losing a tooth is aesthetics — How can I have a perfect smile with a missing tooth? But the implications of missing teeth go ever deeper than losing your enchanting smile.
First off, the adjacent teeth will start jumping to the rescue by filling the gap themselves. Any such movement will loosen the adjacent teeth, further exacerbating the issue. Misaligned teeth, as well as biting and chewing difficulties, might arise because of a missing tooth.
Second, the upcoming bouts of pain and discomfort. When the remaining teeth can no longer rest or bite against their opposites, tooth overeruption and gum damage can occur. So be ready to face headaches, chronic facial pain, and even temporomandibular joint (TMJ) inflammation!
Third, the longer you’re missing a tooth, the higher the chances are jaw bone atrophy will occur. Bone density decreases as the jaw is no longer subjected to stimulation through biting or chewing. Furthermore, the sinus cavity in your upper back jaw will expand and cause even more erosion to the jaw bone if the molar teeth are what you’re missing.
And, lastly — circling back to aesthetic issues — missing teeth will alter your facial structure, leaving you with sunken cheeks or smile lines (i.e., the wrinkles around your mouth).
Can You Get Braces With Missing Teeth?
In a nutshell, yes, patients can undergo orthodontic treatment with missing braces. Aside from realigning crooked teeth, braces will help correct several dental issues, such as overbites, underbites, and crossbites. Furthermore, starting your orthodontic treatment with braces as soon as possible will relieve the pain and discomfort from missing teeth (e.g., jaw pain, headaches, bone loss, gum disease, and tooth decay). So there’s no reason to postpone wearing braces!
To ensure the success of your braces, your orthodontist will recommend adding restorative dentistry procedures, such as implants or bridges, to your treatment plan. As your teeth gradually return to proper alignment, there will finally be enough space to fill the gaps created by missing teeth. Each patient differs in oral health and specific circumstances, so only an orthodontic consultation will help determine the proper treatment approach for you.
Can Braces Close a Missing Tooth Gap?
Closing the gaps caused by missing teeth falls under the limitations of traditional braces. Without the actual tooth acting as the root structure for braces to move, the gap will remain intact (i.e., the surrounding teeth will not shift toward it). Instead, your braces treatment will only be successful if the interdental gap is caused by teeth that are too small or misaligned.
What Are My Options for Closing a Missing Tooth Gap With Braces?
Although closing gaps with missing teeth falls outside of braces’ jurisdiction, orthodontists wield numerous tools to achieve that goal! Depending on your circumstances, one of the following procedures will help fill your interdental space:
- Dental implants are a highly sought-after option for replacing missing teeth. Each dental implant is made of a titanium screw placed into the jawbone that acts as the tooth’s root. A crown is placed over the implant, creating a natural-looking replacement tooth.
- Dental bridges are a restorative dentistry procedure that involves attaching a replacement tooth to the adjacent teeth using dental crowns. A dental bridge is a splendid option if the missing teeth are in a visible area, as its natural look blends in with the surrounding teeth.
- Partial dentures are removable appliances designed to replace one or more missing teeth. They are made of a plastic base that fits over the gums and is attached to replacement teeth. Removable partial dentures are a solid option for patients needing a versatile replacement for their missing teeth!
Can a Child With Several Missing Teeth Get Braces?
Getting braces from an early age as part of an interceptive orthodontic treatment is an excellent idea! It would be best for your children to get braces around the ages of 7 and 8, when primary teeth, adult teeth, and interdental spaces are all part of a child’s oral cavity. Wearing braces with missing teeth at an early age will realign the existing teeth while making enough room for the remaining teeth to erupt properly. In addition, the sooner your kid starts their orthodontic treatment, the fewer issues they will face in the future!
How About Clear Retainers With Missing Teeth?
Are braces my only orthodontic option if I’m missing teeth? Not at all! In fact, clear retainers such as Invisalign and SPARK are the preferred approach for patients already with oral health issues, such as chronic gum disease or severe tooth decay. That is because clear retainers are removable, allowing patients to brush and floss more effectively, without wires or brackets standing in the way!
Start Your Orthodontic Treatment at Patuxent Orthodontics!
Contact Patuxent Orthodontics if 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 (240) 802-7217 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today and book a complimentary orthodontic consultation! Our office, located at 44220 Airport View Dr., Hollywood, MD 20636, proudly serves Maryland’s Patuxent area, as well as the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Hollywood, Wildewood, or Leonardtown and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Maryland, 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!