Most of us know that oral health is very important. We take measures to maintain good oral hygiene, going for regular dental visits and having two cleanings per year. But is that all that needs to be done to maintain good oral health?
What about replacing the teeth we lose? Many of us may be under the misapprehension that because we have 32 teeth, losing a couple of them is not a big deal. However, there are issues we face when we lose teeth. Each tooth has a different function, and it is important for missing teeth to be restored. If they are not, adjacent teeth can move into that space and cause bite and TMJ (jaw joint) issues.
Overall Health Affects Oral Health
Long ago, our ancestors had wide jaws and good airways. These days, however, we often see people that have severe tooth crowding, narrow jaws, narrow airways, and even children with teeth missing. This could be due to epigenetics (how behavior and environment can cause changes that affect how our genes function), nutrition, gut issues, and poor oral hygiene. Each tooth is connected via meridian pathways (energy pathways that span across interrelated body parts) to different organs, glands, vertebrae, spinal cord segments, joints, and muscles in different parts of the body. Dentists who are familiar with different meridians can assess the patient’s general wellness by assessing their oral health. If there is weakness in a particular organ or system, the health of the tooth associated with it plays a significant role and could exacerbate the condition.
For example, if a patient has an infection in tooth #3 (the upper right molar) and there is also a thyroid issue with that patient, such as hypothyroidism or cancer in the thyroid, that #3 infection can exacerbate the thyroid condition, as that tooth lies in the meridian pathway. In such cases, if it is not possible to restore the tooth, it is best that the tooth be replaced. There are three options in replacing a tooth: an implant, a bridge, or a partial
denture. Of these, implants are generally favored, as they most closely resemble and mimic our natural teeth.
Dental Implants to Protect Your Health?
Like our teeth, implants help maintain the alignment of the jawbone. If we do not replace a missing tooth with an implant, we end up losing bone over time until the ridge becomes very small and thin. At this point, what could have been a relatively simple and affordable implant placement has become an expensive and time-consuming procedure to replace the bone. Furthermore, implants can be placed during the same procedure in which the tooth is extracted, preserving bone and avoiding an additional implant surgery later. It is important to note that such a procedure requires the dentist to have a great deal of skill and training.
Implants can be made from either titanium alloy or ceramic. Thinking organically, we know that metals can cause problems in our body, whereas ceramic implants are biocompatible and are therefore a healthier option.
Bridges and Partial Dentures
Prepping and trimming the adjacent teeth is required for a bridge (similar to three crowns attached to each other), a significant drawback of which is trimming two healthy teeth to replace one missing tooth. A partial denture is a much more conservative approach, in which a mold is taken of the patient’s affected area and a replacement appliance is created. Drawbacks of a partial denture are that it is a removable appliance that needs to be taken out at night, there will be bone loss over time, and they may need to be remade or realigned when the patient loses bone and the appliance no longer fits correctly.
Whatever option you select, missing teeth need to be replaced to keep the mouth—and the rest of the body—healthy. Our teeth should be valued as much as other things we miss in life when we lose them. Let’s keep in mind that every tooth is important to our overall health, and they should not be taken for granted.
There is a meridian app on our website: drjaydental.com. By clicking on each tooth you can see which organs and systems are connected to that particular tooth. Dr. Krithika Jayaprakash DDS, FAGD, NMD, IBDM. Naturopathic dentist specializing in ceramic crowns and all your dental needs.
Dr. Jay Dental, 170 Union St., Vernon, CT 06066. 860.875.3349.