Have you lost an adult tooth because of tooth decay or an injury? All of your teeth play an important role in eating and supporting your face and jaw, so a gap in your smile can be more than just a cosmetic issue.
Find out why it's important to replace missing teeth and whether a denture, bridge or dental implant might be the right choice for you.
How common are missing teeth?
Missing teeth are more common in older age groups, as there's more time for teeth to become lost. The most recent data from the Australian National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004–06 found that teenagers and young adults aged 15–34 were missing an average of 0.8 teeth, rising to 3.9 teeth for 35–54 year olds, 10.2 teeth for people aged 55–74 and 14.1 missing teeth for seniors over 75.
Around 1% of children aged 6–14 have also lost at least one adult tooth to decay, according to the latest National Child Oral Health Study 2012–14. This doesn't include figures for teeth lost due to sporting injuries and other dental accidents.
Missing teeth become more of an issue the more you lose. Having fewer than 21 teeth is considered inadequate dentition, as this is the minimum number needed for healthy eating. More than half of Australians over 75 have inadequate dentition, with most choosing an option such as dentures or a bridge to replace the missing teeth.
What problems can a missing tooth cause?
For many people, a visible gap is reason enough to replace a missing tooth with an artificial tooth, which can be designed by your dentist to look just like the real thing. However, there are more reasons than just aesthetics why you might consider replacing an extracted or knocked out tooth.
- Dietary problems – If a missing tooth affects your ability to eat, this could cause pain when chewing or lead to you avoid certain types of foods. This could have knock-on effects on your health and wellbeing if you're not getting enough nutrition.
- Speech problems – Spaces between teeth can sometimes affect how you sound and your self-esteem.
- Crooked teeth – Our teeth support each other, so when one is missing, the surrounding teeth can sometimes shift position. This can make these teeth harder to clean, increasing the risk of oral health problems. It can also lead to other problems such as teeth grinding or TMJ dysfunction.
- Bone loss – Teeth also support the jaw and the face by encouraging new bone growth. When a tooth root is missing, the jaw sometimes starts to shrink around the tooth. If you lose a number of teeth, this can affect the shape of your face.
What are the options for replacing missing teeth?
If you want to replace a tooth or multiple teeth, our dentists on the Gold Coast will explain the different treatments we offer and what they cost, so you can decide what's right for you. Depending on your budget, your preferences and how many teeth you need to replace, our dentists may recommend:
- Dental bridge – A prosthetic tooth that 'bridges' the gap to replace a missing tooth and support the teeth on both sides. A dental bridge may be made from porcelain (ceramic) or porcelain fused to metal for a natural-looking appearance. It can replace a single tooth or multiple teeth in a row.
- Dental implants – More expensive than a dental bridge and involving oral surgery, dental implants have their advantages if you want a longer-lasting treatment and a replacement tooth that looks and feels as close to a real tooth as possible. Dental implants are positioned in the jaw, where they can also support bone growth.
- Dentures – removable dentures are a cheaper alternative to replace several teeth or all of your teeth. They need to be cleaned every day to keep away bacteria and we may advise that you avoid certain foods.
To find out more about any of these treatments and other services we offer at Robina Town Dental, call our friendly team on (07) 5575 9100 or make an appointment today.
 Slade GD, Spencer AJ, Roberts-Thomson KF (Editors) 2007. Australia’s dental generations: the National Survey of Adult Oral Health 2004–06. Dental statistics and research series no. 34. AIHW cat. no. DEN 165. Canberra: AIHW.
 Do LG & Spencer AJ (editors) 2016. Oral health of Australian children: the National Child Oral Health Study 2012–14. Adelaide: University of Adelaide Press.
 NACDH (National Advisory Council on Dental Health) 2012. Report of the National Advisory Council on Dental Health 2012. Canberra: Department of Health and Ageing.