“Every tooth in a man’s head is more valuable than a diamond.” Miguel de Cervantes couldn’t have said it any other way. That is because our teeth play a very important role in chewing and helping to digest food, enabling us to pronounce words correctly and give shape to the face. A smile is said to be one of the best accessories anyone can wear. Unfortunately, some individuals have low self-esteem because of tooth loss or bad denture. While this may not be a serious health issue, it affects their confidence.
Most people will at one time in their life need to replace a missing tooth because of motor accidents, sports activities or have it removed after consultation with a dentist, probably due to extensive tooth decay or gum disease.
Several options exist for replacing missing teeth, and Dr. Gwendolyn Amarquaye-Bayitse delves into three of the most common types:
These are artificial teeth and gums created by your dentist to replace any lost teeth. It could be a few missing teeth or the entire set of upper and lower teeth. Dentures are made of two different types of materials: acrylic resin, which is more popular and cost effective, and the metal type framework, which is more expensive.
They are custom made for every individual, and can be easily removed and worn. Before you settle on your first dentures, your dentist will examine and make sure your mouth is in a healthy condition. Together with a dental lab technician, your dentist will take measurements of the remaining teeth and fabricate dentures that will fit perfectly, looking almost like your own teeth.
Dr. Amarquaye-Bayitse explained: “The dentist will also teach you how to wear and care of them to ensure they are always in good condition. And you don’t have to take them out to eat your food. They can be used for chewing and talking comfortably. However, you need to remove them when going to bed”.
A bridge is a type of replacement used when there are fewer teeth to replace or only one side of the mouth. Usually, a bridge is attached to a gum-coloured plastic base, and is sometimes connected by metal framework that holds the denture in place. Dr. Amarquaye-Bayitse cautions that this type of replacement is not removable like the dentures, but fixed. She recommends seeing a dentist for removal if the need arises. It is important the dentist examines and takes x-rays for thorough assessment of the supporting teeth to ensure they are healthy and strong enough to support the new tooth.
The last option for replacing missing teeth is getting implants. Implants are also a fixed type of replacement. They are made from metallic screw-like material that is normally placed in the bone surgically to act as the root of the tooth. Three to six months are then given for the metal and bone to fuse together as one unit, making it difficult to separate the implants from the surrounding bone. A crown is later placed over it. Several of these implants can be placed in the jaw to replace multiple teeth or to hold dentures more securely in place. It is the most expensive option of the three.
Missing teeth can have a significant impact on appearance and overall oral health. Dr. Amarquaye-Bayitse advises that individuals consult a dentist to understand the various options available or suitable, the advantages and disadvantages of each option, and the cost involved before settling on a replacement type.
Ensure that your teeth replacements are done by a qualified dentist, and not a quack. A healthy mouth makes for a healthy body and a pretty smile.
Time with The Dentist is a dental TV show by Pepsodent in partnership with the Ghana Dental Association. The show seeks to educate Ghanaians on basic oral hygiene routines, how to care for the teeth, and some myths and facts associated with maintaining good oral hygiene, among others.
It airs weekly on TV3, Adom TV, UTV, MX24 and GHOne TV.