Welcome to the mad, mad world of memorabilia. We all know die-hard fans collect anything that they can lay their hands on- ties and tees, used perfume, peeling photographs, you name it, they want it. Here’s the ultimate. Elvis Presley of the “Wooden Heart” now has his tooth in a box waiting to be sold, along with a lock of his hair- on e-Bay for 100,000US$!

It got me thinking-what was a tooth worth, anyway? The value of teeth and the role they play in our health and wellbeing are known unfortunately, only after they are lost.

Teeth can be lost due to severe physical trauma like in an accident. More commonly, loss occurs from tooth decay that cannot be restored, fracture and loss of supporting bone or from untreatable infection.

It is unwise to leave an empty space. The entire setup is balanced very dynamically and one missing component can have damaging effects such as:

  • Shifting, tipping of the remaining teeth into empty space
  • Gaps open up to attract food particle that causes decay and gum disease
  • Bite collapse- the jaw closes farther than it should because of lack of support
  • An increased chance of Root Canals or increased bone loss due to more force on the remaining teeth
  • The longer missing teeth are replaced, the more complex the treatment may become.

Modern dentistry offers the following Tooth replacement options:
Full Dentures:
Dentures are made of either acrylic or metal. They are essentially artificial teeth set in to a framework, which sits on the gums and takes support from the remaining natural teeth.

Partial Dentures:
Partial dentures are used when many teeth are missing and when teeth are not strong enough to support a bridge. Complete dentures are used when all upper and lower teeth are missing.

The disadvantages of these removable pieces in the mouth include inability to speak freely, chew effectively and look good. They have to be removed after every meal and Yes, you can lose it or break it at a most inconvenient moment.

It is term used when the missing tooth is replaced with an artificial tooth that is cemented to the adjoining natural teeth. Most commonly the adjacent teeth are shaped to receive crowns and these are connected to form the bridge. They are useful when only for a few missing teeth. They are firmly fixed and therefore efficient. However, Bridges need the preparation of the adjacent natural teeth involving long hours in the chair and are difficult to clean. In the long run the adjacent teeth also develop problems.

Artificial tooth supports surgically set in the jaw – are used in combination with bridges, dentures and crowns to replace any number of missing teeth. Adults who have healthy gums, adequate bone to support the implant, and a commitment to meticulous oral hygiene are good candidates for the procedure. Implants require one or two outpatient or office surgeries and take from three to nine months to complete. Implants are used to replace a single, multiple or all teeth that may be missing.

When a person has a tooth problem, the easiest thing to do seems to be to pull out the tooth and get rid of the problem. It is indeed a pity that you can pull out your tooth for a few rupees and it can cost you a lot of money and time to replace them. Dentists can give you only a reasonable replacement for a perfect work of Nature. Spending time on preventive dentistry is the single most effective way of preserving your precious teeth for a lifetime. These include regular check-ups and professional advice and prophylaxis. Your tooth may not be Elvis’ tooth but it is far more valuable, especially to you. Take care of this precious asset and it will serve you for a lifetime of good health and quality living.

June 3, 2014