Most people understand that tooth loss has a profound effect on oral health. A missing tooth, for example, can cause other teeth to shift, accelerate bone loss and make it difficult to chew food properly. But what about the psychological impact of losing a tooth? Can dental implants help to restore self-confidence?
Just like a missing tooth affects our ability to chew, a lost tooth can also impact a person's ability to speak and interact with others. For this reason, many people with missing teeth avoid social situations, smile less and cover their mouths when they do.
In particularly bad cases, tooth loss can cause outgoing people to become apprehensive, reclusive, and even depressed.
To back this up, a 2013 study found while some people took tooth loss in their stride, over 70% of those surveyed found it devastating and disruptive, with some likening it to losing a limb.
Additionally, tooth loss can accelerate facial aging leading to a negative self-image and a sense of shame and insecurity – all of which can impact relationships, professional opportunities and, above all, quality of life.
But here's the good news:
Dental implants can help. They provide the only real solution to tooth loss's physical and psychological effects. Here's how.
Unlike conventional dentures and bridges, which can be uncomfortable and challenging to maintain, implants provide a permanent long-term solution to missing tooth replacement.
Moreover, because they are fixed into the jaw, implant-based restorations look and function like natural teeth, so much so that it's hard to tell the difference between a natural tooth and a restored version.
Essentially, a permanent, fully restored smile prevents many psychological factors associated with missing teeth, including social unease and embarrassment. But more than that, research suggests that a great smile makes us feel more attractive, confident and successful.
The ability to restore full chewing capability cannot be underestimated. The impact of not being able to chew appropriately after tooth loss may mean that some people change diets to accommodate their inability to chew. Any long-term dietary restrictions can and will affect a person's quality of life.
While a complete denture has around 20% to 25% of the masticatory force of a natural tooth, a dental implant restores approximately 85% to 95% of a natural tooth's bite force. So where a denture may require dietary restrictions, no such food restrictions are necessary with a fully-stabilised implant.
Because implant patients are able to eat whatever they like, they can adopt a mood-boosting diet full of vegetables, fruit, lean protein and whole grains, thus relieving the burden and social stigma of tooth loss, dietary restrictions, and everything else that goes with it.
Another psychological factor affecting tooth loss is accelerated facial aging. When tooth loss occurs, any bone tissue that once supported the tooth root is no longer required. As a result, it gets reabsorbed back into the body, causing the jawbone to shrink - a condition known as bone atrophy.
Evidence suggests that the alveolar (jaw) bone shrinks by up to 30% during the first six months after tooth loss. This, in turn, causes the once-taut skin to sag. When this happens, deep facial lines and wrinkles can appear, giving the person an aged appearance. Reports suggest that looking older can impact our subjective well-being.
Unfortunately, because conventional dentures sit on the gum line, they cannot stop bone loss and, in some cases, may accelerate the problem further.
However, dental implants are a different story:
When an implant is anchored into the missing tooth site, the titanium post restates any remaining bone tissue. This restimulation tricks the body into thinking that bone tissue is needed. Therefore, provided the area is healthy and free from gum disease, further bone loss is halted as any remaining tissue is no longer reabsorbed.
Moreover, a complete set of teeth gives the appearance of a fuller face and a more youthful look. Knowing that any further bone loss has been stopped, plus the possibility of an improved younger look, is often enough to trigger a dramatic improvement in self-esteem and an increase in self-confidence.
Aside from the above information, further studies show that dental implants can improve the mental effects associated with tooth loss.
In a 2012 study, results found that a cross-section of middle-aged and older people facing partial or total tooth loss benefited psychologically from dental implant treatment.
All patients surveyed showed significant signs of improvement in terms of self-esteem, self-confidence and how they generally felt about themselves.
So, now that we've shed some light on the reasoning behind the psychological issues of tooth loss and understand the link between dental implants and an improved mental state, it does seem that dental implants and increased self-confidence go hand in hand.
For these reasons, if you or a loved one is struggling with the psychological effects of tooth loss, then it's vital to see a dentist who can help.
Here at Chesterfield Dentistry, we offer a free dental implant consultation where you can come and speak to Dr Akinwande about your current condition. From this, you can quickly ascertain whether you're a good candidate and determine whether dental implants can help.
Want to know more?
Book a consultation today, and let us plan your implant journey.
Cal 314-936-3621 or book online
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