Dr. David Reichwage is a practicing Ft. Wayne family dentist, whose hygiene program was recognized in June's national hygiene journal, "RDH." Waynedale native Teresa Harris Barjenbruch, RDH; and Lisa O'Connor, RDH; of Dr. Reichwage's team, are co-developers of this program.
MISSING TEETH AFFECT YOUR ENTIRE BODY
Dear Dr. Reichwage;
I have several missing teeth. When I was younger, if I had a problem, I just had a tooth pulled, because I thought it would save money. Now my dentist says other bad things are happening because of these missing teeth, and advises me to replace them. I lean toward getting them out and getting dentures, but I'm 58 and now I want to do the right thing for myself.
Raymond S. New Haven
Unfortunately, this is a common dental issue. I appreciate that you are concerned for your long-term best outcome.
Many people don't realize: 1) the value of their teeth, and 2) where they wouldn't cut off an infected finger, will pull an infected or problem tooth. Pulling the tooth affects the body just as negatively; God gave us both and both serve an important purpose. The difference is that the impact of the lost tooth isn't as obvious or immediate.
Your mouth and your body are one unit and work together like a puzzle. Pulling a tooth, if not replaced, has a negative domino affect on both!
Each extracted tooth results in the loss of jaw bone, which negatively affects surrounding teeth. Surrounding teeth, no longer held in place, drift to fill in this available space. The "bite relationship," critical to the health of your temporomandibular jaw joint (TMJ) and to your ability to evenly chew food, is destroyed, and your mouth no longer fits together properly.
The jaw joint can deteriorate, teeth that have moved can tip horizontally, and you can be left with digestive problems and other symptoms including radiating pain in your face, neck, shoulders, body and extremities, which may go undiagnosed, or may be attributed to other illnesses for years.
When all teeth are extracted, a very significant amount of jawbone is lost. As your jaws heal, they shrink. The bony ridge of your lower jaw, on which your denture rests, also shrinks, often making the fit of your lower denture unsatisfactory. The bite relationship can be destroyed, again causing jaw joint issues and body pain.
While some people do well with dentures, others eventually invest in implant dentures to achieve a state of health, and many, many others live the rest of their lives with ill-fitting dentures, digestive problems, jaw dysfunction, body pain and a negative impact to their appearance.
Dentists frequently see people desiring a quick and inexpensive "fix," regardless of the long-term negative outcomes. Because your health is involved, I would advise replacing the missing teeth.