Whether you're missing a tooth due to extraction, decay, gum disease, or trauma, it's important to replace missing teeth as soon as you can. Having a gap in your smile can lead to self-confidence issues. Missing a tooth or several teeth isn't just a cosmetic issue, however.
Leaving a space in your mouth where there should be a tooth can cause other dental and health problems.
When you chew, the force on the crowns of your teeth travels down the roots and into your jawbone, stimulating the bone and keeping it healthy. When you lose a tooth, the bone underneath your gums in the empty space doesn't get this stimulation. Without stimulation, the bone begins to weaken and reabsorb into the body.
You can lose up to 25 percent of the bone within the first year after losing a tooth or having one extracted. Bone loss happens even more rapidly in patients who have periodontal disease, which causes infections in the gums and the alveolar bone that holds teeth in place.
Patients with bone loss from missing teeth often have a sunken appearance to their faces, making them look older.
If you leave a gap in your mouth from a missing tooth, the teeth on either side of the space will eventually start to shift to partially fill in the space. This causes misalignment of the teeth, which can worsen the appearance of your smile and make it difficult to clean your teeth well if you can't get your toothbrush and floss around the crooked teeth that have shifted.
Misaligned teeth cause more bone issues since they aren't getting the full bite pressure when you chew. Some patients with misaligned teeth begin to suffer health problems from poor nutrition since many healthy foods, including fruits and vegetables, are crunchy or chewy and difficult to eat with missing and misaligned teeth.
Super eruption is when a tooth comes too far out of your jawbone. Missing a tooth can lead to super eruption of the opposing tooth since the opposing tooth doesn't have the contact pressure it used to have from the missing tooth. The tooth compensates for the loss by moving further out of the jaw.
Over time this can lead to breakage or loss of the super-erupted tooth if there isn't enough contact with the jawbone to support it appropriately.
If you're only missing one or two teeth, the most common methods of replacement are dental implants and bridges. Dental implants don't require much maintenance and can last 15 years or more. They also look very natural.
On the other hand, bridges don't look as natural and typically need to be replaced every 5 to 7 years. Bridges are less expensive than dental implants, however, and they don't require surgery to place them.
Talk to your dentist about the pros and cons of tooth replacement methods to determine which one is best for you.
Up until a year ago, I did my best to keep my teeth and gums clean. But after securing a new job, I began to work late into the night and didn't have the time or energy to brush and floss before I retired to bed. My busy schedule and poor dental hygiene finally affected my teeth and gums. After experiencing severe pain in several of my teeth, I made an appointment with my dentist. My dentist examined my mouth and discovered three large cavities in my molars. After four long weeks, my dentist finally completed my dental work. I learned a very painful lesson during that time. No matter how busy you are, always brush and floss. I started this blog to inform other people about the importance of good dental care. I hope you find the time to read it. Thanks for visiting.