The old adage “you don’t have to brush your teeth – only the ones that you want to keep” rings true. That is to say, the longer the natural tooth structure is preserved within the oral cavity, the easier it is for the jaw to maintain a healthy level of bone. Additionally, it is easier for an individual to chew, speak, and clean their teeth when the natural teeth are present. This article will explain in detail why it is important to preserve natural teeth, and why restorative work such as implants are recommended for patients who have lost some of their natural teeth due to trauma, decay, or mobility.
The Natural Teeth and Speaking or Chewing
The natural tooth structure allows for better speech, chewing, and swallowing. Each tooth structure can be thought of as a custom-fit extension of bone that grows outward, and it fits into an individual’s jaw better than any restoration. Chewing and swallowing food is much more comfortable and efficient when teeth are natural, and the benefits of buffers in food and saliva, like calcium and fluoride ions, become embedded in a natural tooth structure as the whole system works together in harmony.
The Ease of Cleaning Natural Teeth
Unlike restorations, which can consist of many teeth cemented together, natural teeth are much easier to clean with a toothbrush or floss, as for instance the presence of a bridge means that floss must be inserted with a floss threader. Preserving the natural teeth via properbrushing and flossing methods makes it easier to keep them healthy and free of plaque and calculus.
The Role of Natural Teeth in Maintaining Healthy Bone Levels
Dentists, dental hygienists, and other allied health professionals recommend that natural teeth be kept in a healthy state for as long as possible. The number one reason is because natural teeth communicate directly with the alveolar bone; the upper and lower jawbones holding the teeth firmly into place. The presence of tooth roots planted within the alveolar bone reduces the amount of bone that is lost and, consequently keeps adjacent teeth more stable. A healthy level of bone within the entire jaw also reduces the risk of periodontal disease, as pathogenic (disease-producing) bacteria can live deep within the alveolar bone and cause further destruction of the teeth. In extreme cases, bacteria associated with periodontal infections can enter the bloodstream, and have been linked to other chronic conditions such as heart disease.
Implants vs. Natural Teeth
If natural teeth must be extracted due to excess decay, or if they become weak and mobile, implants are often recommended. To be a good candidate for implants, a healthy amount of bone must be present where the restorations are to be placed. Implants “trick” the alveolar bone into acting as if natural teeth are present, and consequently, the patient is able to maintain a healthy oral cavity. Implants are literally screws with artificial teeth anchored to them, and consequently, remain in the jaw permanently after they are placed. Any patient interested in implants must quit smoking before they can be considered.
For more information, contact Dr. Marissa Miller at Discovery Dental in Shelby, OH today!