Having crowded teeth can have serious consequences if not addressed properly with vigilance. However, even the most conscientious people can sometimes face serious oral care problems stemming from this common issue if the root of the problem is not rectified.
In today’s article, we explore a recent case of a patient that came to our office and what we can learn from his mistakes.
What Could I Have Done To Save My Teeth?
Dentists use the term hopeless to describe a tooth that requires removal. He was shocked when I told him that his lower front teeth are hopeless. Many of us can come to grips if we learn about the loss of a back tooth. After all, no one sees that tooth. It doesn’t take long to learn how to chew well. We discussed on many occasions, the problems with that type of thinking. I will not focus on back teeth today.
Our patient needed to think of all changes in his life when he will not have any of his front lower teeth. Suddenly, all of the rationales for replacing missing teeth that we used for the back of the mouth does not matter in the front.
The reason for the distinction is apparent. In the front of the mouth, there is an added dimension of cosmetics.
Crowded teeth Are More Than Just Unsightly
The question that needs discussion is why is he losing his lower front teeth? What caused these teeth to reach a stage that removal is the only choice?
The answer lies in decisions that are years or even decades old. Let me go back a little in time.
When I first met my patient, he smiled, and I saw his lower front teeth crowded upon each other. My patients view crowded teeth as unsightly or cosmetically unacceptable. I view crowded teeth as a cleanliness nightmare. I see many people who struggle to keep straight teeth clean. How can I expect them to care for crowded teeth?
Neglecting His Orthodontic Retainers
When I started to discuss the crowding as the cause of tooth loss, my patient said he wished he wore his retainer after his braces.
Those of you who had orthodontics at a young age remember that the parting gift from the orthodontist was a pink piece of plastic with a wire over the front teeth. The instructions that you received with the retainer was to wear this all the time.
We know that wearing the retainer was the last thing on your mind. It was annoying to wear it and care for it. After years of having metal in your mouth, why would I want a wire across my beautiful straight teeth? So dentistry evolved.
We began offering bonded metal wires on the backs of front teeth. The permanent retainer took control out of the hands of the teenage patient and allowed longer wear. As these patients got older, cleanliness around the wire became an issue. Flossing with a bonded retainer made a challenging task almost impossible. Ultimately, dentists removed these retainers.
Crowded Teeth Can Ultimately Cause Tooth Loss
After braces, no one thinks about retention. The lack of continual vigilance is the moving of the teeth.
Lower front teeth, more so than others, tend to crowd over time.
Crowded teeth are an excellent spot for plaque to develop. Once the plaque settles in with its millions of bacteria, gum inflammation is not far behind. Gum inflammation leads to bone disease, which results in bone loss around the teeth,
Jaw bone holds the teeth in the jaw. If disease destroys the bone, then infection comes in, and we see loose teeth. Isn’t it funny how the simple task of wearing a retainer has far-reaching ramifications over time? I’m sure that young teenager never pictured himself losing teeth, let alone his front teeth.
Clear Aligners – A Modern Solution to Crowded Teeth
How do we fix crooked/crowded teeth on an adult? I recommend the use of clear aligners to straighten the teeth. Straight are much easier to keep clean and healthy when compared to crooked teeth.
Take a look in the mirror at your teeth. If you see crowding and crooked teeth, you don’t have to live with that. Fixing the problem is not difficult. It might even save your teeth. If this sounds like you, call me at 440.951.7856, and together we will preserve your teeth.
Jeffrey Gross, DDS, FAGD is an Ohio licensed general dentist and is on the staff of Case Western Reserve School of Dental Medicine in the Department of Comprehensive Care.