By Jeffrey Jones, DDS
While it may seem that losing just one tooth won’t have any serious affect on the rest of your mouth, the truth is that it starts a very negative chain reaction. The loss of a single tooth can compromise your eating habits, your speech, and your appearance. When a tooth in the back of the mouth is lost, it can lead to numerous problems, such as impacting your ability to chew food and properly clean your teeth. Losing a tooth also can compromise the health of your remaining teeth and can lead to many other detrimental effects:
- Malocclusion or a misaligned bite
- Drifting of neighbor teeth and opposing arch teeth
- Food packing with resulting gum disease and bad breath
- Over-eruption (also known as super-eruption) of the tooth above or below the lost tooth. Super-eruption speeds the progress of decay, gum disease, and TMJ pain.
- Uneven, premature wear and tear on the remaining teeth
- TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder and pain due to tooth misalignment
- Non-reversible anatomy changes in the TMJ jaw joints
- The eventual loss of more teeth
- Pain when chewing hard foods, chips, and cracker-like foods which dig into the remaining gum area of the lost tooth
When you’ve lost even a single tooth, it’s highly advisable that you replace that tooth. By replacing the missing tooth, your other teeth will remain properly aligned, which will prevent the above problems from happening. By far, the best option for replacing a missing tooth is a dental implant.
Here’s an interesting question: is there an age when it’s not worth the cost to replace a missing tooth? Do people become too frugal to fix their teeth as they age? People who have wisely spent years saving their pennies to fatten their nest eggs often find it hard to get out of the savings habit. It’s a good habit, but at an age when those savings ought to be spent, people often become afraid to touch them.
“Research and common sense show that healthy teeth and the ability to eat all types of food lengthens life, creates a positive self-image, and significantly enhances the quality of life.”
To be sure, there are reasons for caution. You don’t know how long you are going to live, you fear unexpected health care costs in later age, and you are likely earning very little from savings and worry about losing money on your investments. There is scientific evidence that we sometimes worry too much and deprive ourselves of important necessities, such as dental care or hearing aids that we actually can afford.
I’m thinking of the friend who flies to see her grandson only once per year because she wrongly believes that an extra plane fare and visit would knock her nest egg out of whack. Or, the one who has enough money to buy hearing aids, but is so shocked at the price that he or she continues to live with impaired hearing.
Are you stuck on fixing your teeth too? Could you spend more on healthcare, grandchildren, fun, and even hobbies without the nagging dread that the money will run out? For some who have only a small amount of savings and live on Social Security and perhaps a small pension, these questions may be moot. You likely already spend all your income and need your savings for emergencies.
For those who are in better financial shape, however, over-caution might be leading to unwise decisions. A 2016 Vanguard Center of Retirement Research study finds that on average, savings continue to rise after people retire. A similar study from Texas Tech University finds that even people taking required minimum distributions from their IRA accounts tend to save some of that money rather than spending it all.
It’s natural to be a little unsure about how much money you can afford to use for things that are necessary or desirable, but perhaps not urgent. However, it is appropriate and correct to spend on needed dental care, especially in early retirement (the go-go years) because you will naturally cut back later (the no-go years). As you get older, it’s normal to worry about running out of money, but don’t worry so much you forego quality of life, needed healthcare, or the joy of life. Fix your teeth! Mature adults know that the pleasure of eating is one of the very top priorities in life. Research and common sense show that healthy teeth and the ability to eat all types of food lengthens life, creates a positive self-image, and significantly enhances the quality of life.
For more information about replacing teeth with mini-implants, traditional implants, headache treatment with a dental device, or to schedule a dental check-up, you may contact Jeffrey Jones, DDS, LLC at 309-454-5830 or visit www.implantandcrown2650.com or www.jeffjonesdentistry.com. Jeffrey Jones DDS, LLC is located at 305 S. Linden Street in Normal. Dr. Jones is a general dentist and provides state-of-the-art dentistry for all ages.