Missing teeth in a child’s smile is a part of growing up. When we see their crooked jack-o-lantern smiles, we know that soon adult teeth will fill the gaps. But what happens when adults lose permanent teeth? An unbroken line of pearly whites is what we expect to see when someone flashes a grin, and not having it can make you hide your smile. You should know, however, that if you are missing permanent teeth, there are options to restore your beautiful smile.

What are the major missing teeth problems?

Missing teeth may seem to be a mostly cosmetic issue, but missing teeth problems go much deeper than that. Missing teeth problems are more than just a gap in your teeth. They can leave a hole in your entire life.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 120 million people in the U.S. have one or more missing teeth. Fully 36 million people have no teeth at all. Tooth loss also discriminates geographically and racially. For example, the rate of a person missing teeth in the U.S. is about 25%. In some states, though, that number climbs to 42% (and is just 13% in California). And, untreated tooth decay is higher in Hispanic and African American adults (36% and 42%, respectively) than non-Hispanic adults (22%).

With a front tooth missing, it can be challenging to put your best face forward every day. Even if you are missing permanent teeth that can’t be seen in your smile, you might feel embarrassed and self-conscious, especially when you’re in public or around new people.

Eating can also be a challenge if teeth and gums are sore. This can lead to excessive and unwelcome weight loss and malnutrition.

What are the causes of tooth loss?

There are nine major causes of tooth loss.

  1. Poor oral hygiene: Improper or infrequent brushing and flossing can cause cavity.
  2. No regular dental checkups: Left untreated, cavities can lead to more serious periodontal disease that can lead to missing teeth.
  3. Dental issues left untreated: Missing teeth can put more pressure on gums and remaining teeth, potentially leading to more tooth loss.
  4. Poor nutrition: Teeth are bones that need nutrients to remain strong and healthy; a diet lacking those nutrients and high in fat and sugar can lead to tooth loss.
  5. Smoking: Smokers are approximately twice as likely to lose adult teeth than non-smokers (especially for postmenopausal women).
  6. Tooth grinding: Also called bruxism, tooth grinding can stress tender gum tissues and eventually lead to chipped, broken, or lost teeth.
  7. Gum disease: Gum disease is a major cause of missing teeth.
  8. Genetics: In some cases, a genetic tendency towards periodontal disease can lead to missing teeth.
  9. Trauma: A blow to the mouth or jaw can lead to tooth loss.

Can you get a tooth replacement?

There is good news, though. It is possible to get a single tooth replacement or even an entire mouth of teeth replaced. A missing tooth doesn’t have to mean the end of a beautiful smile.

What are my front tooth replacement options?

Missing tooth replacement options have come a long way since the story of George Washington and his fictional wooden dentures. Even with a front tooth missing, your cosmetic dentist has options for missing teeth that can blend replacement teeth with your existing teeth.


A dental implant is the most involved of the tooth replacement options. Your dentist will surgically insert a metal post into your jawbone. This post acts as the root for a replacement tooth and is stable because bone will actually grow around the post.

Dental implants can be used for a single tooth or an entire mouth, but they may not be for everyone. Because dental implants are considered surgery, patients must be in good health and cannot have other chronic conditions such as diabetes or leukemia.

Fixed bridges

Fixed bridges are used for a section of missing teeth. They are placed by a dentist and held using either metal implants at each end of the section or metal attachments to the teeth that border the missing section.

Fixed bridges cost less than implants but more than a removable partial bridge.