Tooth loss can be caused by gum disease, deep decay, and trauma. Certain congenital genetic conditions can result in teeth which never develop. Some medical conditions can contribute to tooth loss. But no matter what the cause, missing teeth should never be ignored. A missing tooth is not just a cosmetic problem; losing a tooth can impact your oral health as well.
When a missing tooth leaves a gap, your healthy, even bite can suffer misalignment.
- The remaining teeth might begin moving toward the empty spot left by your lost tooth. Shifting teeth will upset the comfortable alignment of your teeth and your bite.
- A tooth above or below the missing tooth might begin to grow longer to fill the void where the teeth once met, causing further bite problems.
- Changes in your bite can cause headaches, difficulty brushing and flossing, and excess wear and damage to your remaining teeth.
The loss of even a single tooth has a negative effect on eating habits and neighboring teeth.
- Chewing and biting put many pounds of pressure on the teeth. Extra pressure is put on your remaining teeth when a tooth is missing, which causes more wear on them.
- Front teeth are designed to bite, not to grind or chew. Using the front teeth for chewing is hard on teeth and doesn’t break down your food properly.
- You may start chewing on only one side of the mouth, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and temporomandibular joint pain.
- If food isn’t chewed as thoroughly as it should be, your digestive health can suffer.
The bone tissue that supports your teeth needs the stimulation of biting and chewing to stay
- Without this stimulation, bone tissue under your missing tooth will be resorbed by the body, creating a sunken area where the tooth used to be.
- Loss of bone in the jaw can destabilize surrounding teeth as well, causing loose teeth.
- If you want to replace a lost tooth with a dental implant, surgical bone grafting could be necessary to restore enough healthy bone to hold the implant, or the procedure may not be possible at all.
Changes in Facial Appearance and Speech
A missing tooth can affect your self-confidence, just as it can affect your health.
- A gap in your teeth can make you hesitant to smile.
- Cheeks, lips, and profiles can take on a sunken look when the jawbone shrinks, causing your face to look older.
- Because it’s difficult to pronounce some sounds properly with missing teeth, your speech can be affected.
If you are missing one or more teeth, don’t delay treatment. Talk to your dentist about the options available for comfortable and natural-looking tooth replacement, including implants, bridges, and full or partial dentures. Replacing a missing tooth restores the appearance and protects the health of your smile.