Helping with the grief of tooth loss

  • Recognising the emotional effects of tooth loss

  • Tooth extraction and depression

  • Tooth extraction and anger

Extracting teeth is always undertaken reluctantly – even when we know that with some failing teeth there are no other options.

Over the years we have come to recognise the importance placed by patients on their native teeth – and the grief they encounter on losing them.

A recent publication of the British Dental Nurses’ Journal published an article on recognising the emotional effects of tooth loss.

Significantly it pointed out that “the loss of one or more natural teeth has long been recognised as a serious life event that can result in significant disability by impacting on daily living activities, including chewing food adequately, preferred food selection and speech.”

Helping with the grief of tooth loss

Helping with the grief of tooth loss – we always offer a sympathetic approach

Depression over tooth loss

The work notes that these factors, plus possible changes in facial appearance, can lead people to avoid social situations. But what about the adjustment and psychological reactions to tooth loss?

According to the article, there are five stages of grief for lost teeth, and they follow a similar pattern to that which follows the loss of a loved one.

They are denial, anger, depression, bargaining and finally acceptance.

We reckon we’ve encountered patients at every stage of that process. Those who insist there is nothing wrong with teeth that are quite literally falling out; those who are that some teeth can’t be saved; those who are down over losing teeth; then we have the bargainers – those who decide things could have been a lot worse and finally . . . Acceptance.

As practitioners, we can never underestimate the sense of loss, but we do offer a sympathetic approach and probably, more importantly, can deliver some hope with either bridges, dental implant work or high-quality dentures.

The length of grieving varies from person-to-person. Some people accept their tooth loss without any difficulties while others never come to terms with their loss.

tooth loss

Smile culture

For those looking to reclaim lost smiles, we regularly encounter those who feel ashamed that they have lost teeth and there are those too who have expressed behavioural changes brought about by tooth loss.

We are, indeed, complicated souls.

Most behaviour changes related to eating and smiling are well documented. But the less well-documented issues, according to the BDNJ, are possible behaviour changes related to kissing and forming close relationships with people.

The article pointed out that sadness, depression and feeling old were three commonly identified emotions centred around losing native teeth.

Social pressures and the expectations of society are likely to influence the way people react to their tooth loss.

In our British culture, we are bombarded with smiles – bigger smiles, whiter smiles and happy smiles. Indeed, smiles are a huge part of what we are.

Our approach at North Street Dental is non-judgmental, and we are always happy to take on a challenge.

Dental implant therapy

We are privileged with a hugely experienced clinical team and fantastic technicians. We also want to deliver the best clinical solutions possible.

It’s sad that people often relate to “feeling silly” about their strong emotional attachment to their natural teeth.

To recap, we recognise that tooth loss can have a profound impact on the lives of some people and that it affects more than is realised. Above all, there are now proven, long-term solutions we can offer – among the therapies are single and multiple implants to support crowns, bridges and overdentures. Check out our dental implant and denture provision options on our website.

More than 25 years of placing implants

With more than 25 years’ experience as a dental implant surgeon, Dr Owain Rees BDS, DGDP (UK) DIP IMP DENT (UCL) is responsible for all of our implant work.

Qualifying from Birmingham University in 1986, he initially worked as a house officer in oral surgery at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital and early on in his career was exposed to implant work, placing his first in the late 80s. Since then he has developed a particular interest in this field of dentistry.

In furthering his surgical skills, he became a qualified sedationist and undertook postgraduate implantology training with the Eastman Dental Institute. A further implant qualification followed in advanced implantology for experienced practitioners.

Are you feeling miserable over your teeth? Give us a call and arrange a consultation. You’ll find us very friendly!

Dr Owain Rees at work

Dr Owain Rees, North Street Dental implant surgeon