26/01/2024 08:54 AM
Opinions on topical issues from thought leaders, columnists and editors.

By Assoc Prof Dr Azwatee Abdul Aziz


Tooth decay, gum disease, and injury are common causes of missing teeth. In the journey of maintaining good oral health, the decision to restore or not to restore missing teeth is a critical crossroad that individuals often encounter. The consequences of missing teeth extend beyond mere aesthetics, influencing overall oral function, confidence, and long-term health. This article aims to shed light on the importance of addressing tooth loss, explore the potential repercussions of neglecting restoration, and discuss the available options for achieving optimal oral well-being.

The Domino Effect of Missing Teeth

Beyond the noticeable gap in one’s smile, missing teeth set off a chain reaction of consequences. Adjacent teeth may shift, affecting bite alignment and potentially leading to jaw joint issues. The loss of natural tooth roots can contribute to bone resorption in the jaw, impacting facial structure over time. Moreover, compromised oral function and difficulty in chewing certain foods may affect nutritional intake and digestive health.

The Psychological Toll

Social and psychological factors may also come into play when dealing with missing teeth. Individuals may experience a decline in self-esteem and confidence, affecting social interactions and overall quality of life. The societal emphasis on a bright and complete smile can intensify the emotional impact of tooth loss.

To Restore or Not? The Options Unveiled

1. Dental Implant

Pros: It may be a popular option these days for tooth replacement and it is considered the gold standard for tooth replacement. Dental implants provide a permanent and stable solution that mimic the natural tooth structure. They help prevent bone loss and offer excellent functionality.

Cons: It is costly and its placement involves a surgical procedure, and it may not be suitable for everyone. It also requires a healing period before the restoration is complete.

2. Dental Bridges

Bridges are fixed prostheses that bridge the gap created by missing teeth. They are anchored to adjacent teeth or dental implants, restoring both aesthetics and function.

Pros: Bridges are a non-surgical option that bridge the gap created by a missing tooth. They are fixed in place and offer good stability.

Cons: Adjacent teeth must be prepared (reduced in size) to support the bridge. This may compromise the health of these teeth over time.

3. Partial Dentures

Ideal for those with only a few missing teeth and offer a removable option that blends seamlessly with existing teeth.

Pros: Dentures are a removable option that can replace multiple missing teeth. They are typically more affordable than implants.

Cons: Dentures may not provide the same level of stability as implants or bridges. They may also contribute to gum irritation and require regular adjustments.

Factors to Consider

Health Status

Individuals with certain health conditions may not be suitable candidates for certain restorative procedures. A comprehensive health assessment is essential.

Cost and Insurance

The cost of tooth restoration varies, and insurance coverage may play a significant role in the decision-making process. It’s crucial to explore financial options and discuss them with a dental professional.

Long-Term Maintenance

Consider the long-term maintenance requirements of each option.

The Neglected Consequences

Choosing not to restore missing teeth can have lasting implications on oral and overall health. Beyond the physical consequences, the psychological toll of an incomplete smile can impact one’s social life and mental well-being. Neglecting restoration may exacerbate dental issues, leading to more complex and costly treatments in the long run.

Making an Informed Decision

Making the right choice for tooth restoration involves a thorough understanding of individual needs, preferences, and overall health. Consulting with qualified dental professionals is crucial to receiving personalised advice and developing a treatment plan that aligns with one’s goals for optimal oral health.

In conclusion, the decision to restore missing teeth is a personal one that requires careful consideration of various factors. With advancements in dental technology, individuals have several viable options to achieve a healthy and beautiful smile.

Remember: A smile is not just a reflection of happiness; it’s a cornerstone of overall well-being.


Assoc Prof Dr Azwatee Abdul Aziz ( is with the Dept of Restorative Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, Universiti Malaya.

(The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of BERNAMA)