The Consequences of Not Replacing a Missing Tooth

 In oral health

It’s easy to think that a missing tooth isn’t a problem as long as it doesn’t spoil your smile. Instead, it may seem like a blessing at the time if it relieved the excruciating pain that caused it to be removed, and even made you smile. However, consequences can follow a lost tooth that are no smiling matter.

When a tooth or teeth are lost as a result of decay, trauma, injury, gum recession or disease, aren’t replaced, it can affect the entire oral system, and impact on your oral health, and because of the oral systemic link, it can threaten your health in general. It can also affect how your teeth function.

Why is losing any tooth a problem?

Our teeth are carefully structured and placed so as to work as a team in performing very important processes. They operate in orderly groups handling different functions like  biting and chewing the food we eat , in order to start the digestive process. In addition, teeth are designed to assist with our speech.

Losing one or more of them can affect the functionality of the entire system, just as one missing machine or worker can disrupt an entire processing plant. The teeth, like the remaining workers or machines they operate in that factory, are forced to take over work they are not necessarily qualified or designed to do.

Front teeth are tasked with the biting action, while the molars and pre-molars break down and pulp the food with their chewing action. None are designed to do the work of the others.  Just one gap left in this precision-designed teeth mechanism can have the same result as breaking one of the teeth on a circular saw; or removing one part of the pestle and mortar herb grinding tool, and expecting the leftover part to do the job on its own.

The Impact of Tooth Loss

  • If there’s a gap, neighbouring teeth may start to move or skew in order to fill it, while those above or below could lengthen as they try to balance the situation. The skew alignment or variation in height that results can play havoc with your bite and affect the temporomandibular joint between your jaw and your skull. This, in turn, could give rise to headaches and pain.
  • Skewing teeth and uneven tooth heights provide ideal places for food debris to set up home, and bacteria to form by creating places that are hard to reach and clean with a brush. This is the perfect environment for plaque to build up, so increasing the chances of tooth decay which could end in further tooth loss, and up the risk of gum disease and bone damage.
  • Increased cheek biting is another possible consequence, as is the chance that a lost tooth could affect your speech by changing your diction.
  • In terms of aesthetics, losing teeth can do more than affect your smile. It can cause your cheeks to hollow and increase the number of wrinkles around the mouth.

Filling the Gap

Dentures are the only removable options. Full dentures replace an entire set of teeth, while partial dentures consist of small numbers of artificial teeth bound together and attached to the neighbouring teeth with wires. Both types are removable for cleaning purposes.

Bridges: Using a similar principle to partial dentures, but not removable for cleaning, bridges span the gap, and are permanently attached to healthy teeth or dental implants on either side. This “bridge” supports and suspends one or more artificial teeth made out of alloys, porcelain or gold.

Implants involve inserting a long-term replacement. An artificial tooth is attached to the jawbone using a titanium prong which is embedded in the root area. These are often chosen because they function well and appear natural.

Seek you dentist’s advice on the best type of tooth replacement for you. He or she will determine the best option in terms of aesthetics, comfort and functionality. And do so as soon as possible before the other teeth start trying to fill the gap.

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