How can people lose their teeth, besides accidents?

There are three ways a person can lose teeth; decay, gum disease and the way teeth naturally come together, also referred to as one’s bite. It is easy to understand the decay and gum disease process, and easy to prevent with preventive care. Although without good oral health, decay causes holes in teeth, while people with gum disease have bleeding gums and disappearing bone. Bite problems are more difficult to see and understand, but there is no doubt that if the teeth don’t come together correctly and the person is a grinder or clencher, something has to give. Under the right circumstances, extreme wear can occur over a short period of time.

Hello Stephen!

This patient has worn his teeth so much by the age of 40…will there be anything left when he’s 60?

Take Stephen, for example. He is a young man (only 40 years old) whose teeth did not fit properly in his mouth, plus he is prone to heavy grinding. Unknowingly and over time, Stephen ground down almost 50 percent of his natural teeth as the pictures to the left show. The first picture is his natural smile. In the second picture, the cheeks and lips are retracted in order to show the real damage. The front teeth should be around 11mm in length and Stephen’s were 6mm, meaning he had ground off almost half of his natural teeth. This much wear can cause pain while eating and extreme sensitivity to hot and cold. For Stephen, his jaw was also sore all the time, made tons of noise while he ate, and his ears were constantly ringing! Obviously, if something doesn’t change, his teeth will soon be worn down to the gum line, and that causes more problems with the jaw joints. In order to fix this situation, every tooth will need to be crowned and restored to the correct bite. Finding the correct bite is absolutely essential for any long-lasting results. If Stephen’s bite is not corrected before crowns are made, the same wear will take place, and he will literally break his new man-made teeth the same as he did with the ones Mother Nature gave him.

So…what can be done to fix this?

This is the plastic material used as a “trial bite” to rebuild the teeth, testing out the bite before we fix teeth.

We found Stephen’s correct bite by using a process called Neuromuscular Dentistry. We mimic his new good bite using a plastic material to make sure we have it right, as seen in this picture. If the bite is wrong, you simply take the plastic off and everything is back to the way it was and you start over. This step is essential and totally reversible. The plastic bite proved to be the correct one. Notice how much taller and natural looking the teeth are in the corrected bite. Once we knew the bite was right, it is time to move to the final stage; crowning each and every tooth in Stephen’s mouth. We will use the latest all-porcelain crowns for the final restorations. There is no metal in this latest and greatest porcelain restorative material. Soon Stephen will have a smile he can show off, and, more importantly, he can chew food normally and without pain or sensitivity.

Modern dentistry can be a life-changing event, and we are so lucky to be able to help this type of patient every day in our office. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario.  If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!