Missing Teeth

Missing teeth are a common dental issue resulting from various factors, including dental decay, injuries, gum disease, or genetic conditions preventing certain teeth from developing. These gaps in your smile can affect your ability to eat and speak and lead to neighboring teeth shifting into empty spaces.

To maintain proper tooth alignment and overall oral health, popular treatments for missing teeth include dental implants, dentures, and bridges.

At Black Point Dental in Honolulu, HI, our team will work with you to determine the best treatment option for your missing teeth.

Missing Teeth Due to Tooth Decay

Tooth decay primarily contributes to tooth loss. It results from a combination of food residues, saliva, and bacteria. A sticky substance known as plaque clings to the teeth, and if not eliminated through consistent brushing and flossing, it can solidify into tartar.

The buildup of tartar and plaque can cause gum irritation and tooth decay. Often termed a cavity, tooth decay can progress into a dental abscess or infection if not addressed promptly.

Various factors can contribute to plaque buildup, including:

  • Consuming a high-sugar diet (such as soda and sweets)
  • Smoking
  • Inadequate brushing (either too rough or infrequent)
  • Neglecting to floss regularly

Absence of Teeth Owing to Genetic Factors

Certain individuals are born lacking specific teeth due to genetic factors such as hypodontia. The most frequently absent teeth in these cases include wisdom teeth, upper lateral incisors, and second premolars. This condition might also result in an underdeveloped jawbone.

Understanding Hypodontia

Hypodontia is a hereditary condition that leads to dental underdevelopment, resulting in absent teeth. This condition affects approximately 8% of the overall population.

In some instances, children may develop hypodontia following exposure to radiation or chemotherapy during their tooth formation stage. Nevertheless, anyone can be born with this condition.

Identifying Symptoms of Hypodontia

The most prevalent indication of hypodontia is being born without certain teeth. Individuals with this condition might also exhibit large gaps between teeth or teeth that are smaller than average. Hypodontia may be an indicator of other genetic disorders, such as ectodermal dysplasia.

Hypodontia: Factors and Causes

While anyone can be born with hypodontia, the primary cause of its development is family medical history. Hypodontia can also occur in conjunction with other conditions or genetic disorders, including:

  • Ectodermal dysplasia
  • Down syndrome
  • Cleft palate

Diagnosing Hypodontia

Dr. Ferguson will assess your medical history and oral condition during your consultation. If he suspects hypodontia, he will conduct X-rays and the necessary medical examinations to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatments for Missing Teeth: Dental Bridges, Dental Implants, and Dentures

Missing teeth can not only affect your appearance but also lead to oral health issues. Fortunately, modern dentistry offers a variety of treatments to replace missing teeth, including dental bridges, dental implants, and dentures.

Dental Bridges

Dental bridges are a popular treatment option for individuals missing one or more teeth. A bridge consists of a false tooth, called a pontic, that is held in place by adjacent teeth, called abutments. The abutment teeth are typically modified to support crowns that anchor the pontic.

There are several types of dental bridges, including traditional, cantilever, Maryland, and implant-supported bridges. Your dentist will determine the most suitable bridge type based on your individual needs and oral health.

Dental Implants

Dental implants are a more permanent solution for missing teeth, as they replace both the tooth root and the visible part of the tooth (crown). A dental implant consists of a titanium post that is surgically implanted into the jawbone, an abutment that connects the post to the crown, and a custom-made crown that matches the appearance of the patient's natural teeth.

Dental implants offer several benefits, including improved appearance, increased stability, and the prevention of bone loss in the jaw. However, not everyone is a suitable candidate for dental implants, as they require a sufficient amount of healthy jawbone for successful placement.


Dentures are another option for individuals with missing teeth, particularly for those who have lost multiple teeth or all of their teeth. Dentures are removable appliances that can replace a few missing teeth (partial dentures) or an entire arch of teeth (complete dentures).

Dentures consist of artificial teeth attached to a gum-colored base, which is supported by the patient's gums and sometimes held in place with metal clasps or dental adhesives. Dentures can improve a patient's ability to eat and speak, as well as enhance their appearance.

However, they may require periodic adjustments or replacements due to changes in the jawbone and gum tissue over time.

What happens if you don’t replace missing teeth?

If you don't replace missing teeth, several dental and overall health issues may arise over time:

  1. Bone loss: Without a tooth to stimulate the jawbone, the bone starts to deteriorate. This can lead to a weakened jaw and facial structure changes.
  2. Shifting teeth: Adjacent teeth may shift into the gap left by the missing tooth, causing misalignment, bite problems, and potential jaw pain.
  3. Increased risk of gum disease and tooth decay: Gaps between teeth can trap food particles and bacteria, making it harder to maintain proper oral hygiene and increasing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
  4. Difficulty chewing and speaking: Missing teeth can make it challenging to chew food properly, potentially affecting digestion. Additionally, missing teeth, particularly in the front of the mouth, can impact speech and pronunciation.
  5. Aesthetic concerns: Missing teeth can negatively affect your appearance and self-confidence, leading to social and psychological impacts.

To avoid these issues, it's essential to consult with a dentist who can recommend suitable tooth replacement options, such as dental implants, bridges, or dentures.

How to Prevent Missing Teeth

To prevent tooth loss, follow these essential steps:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste and clean between your teeth using dental floss or an interdental brush.
  • Regular dental check-ups: Visit your dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings and oral examinations to detect and treat any early signs of tooth decay or gum disease.
  • Eat a balanced diet: Limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks, as they can contribute to tooth decay. Instead, consume a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to support healthy teeth and gums.
  • Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol: Tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption can increase the risk of gum disease and oral cancer, which may lead to tooth loss.
  • Protect your teeth from injury: Wear a mouthguard during sports or recreational activities that might cause dental injuries. Avoid using your teeth as tools for opening packages or cracking hard objects.
  • Treat existing dental issues: Address any existing dental problems, such as tooth decay, gum disease, or misaligned teeth, as they can contribute to tooth loss if left untreated.

By following these measures, you can help maintain your oral health and prevent tooth loss.

Treatment for Missing Teeth in Honolulu, HI

At Black Point Dental, we treat a wide range of dental issues, including missing teeth.

Dr. Patrick Ferguson is a member of the Hawaii Dental Association, the American Dental Association, and the American Board of Oral Implantology. Black Point Dental offers comprehensive periodontal treatment for your dental procedures.

To schedule a deep cleaning, call us at (808) 955-5922 or request an appointment online. You can also visit our office in Honolulu, HI

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