Cosmetics aside, your teeth have a greater role than just chewing up food! Now if you’re missing one tooth or a few, you may be thinking it’s no big deal, you’ll adjust to it quite easily. But the reality is, the longer you wait to address a missing tooth, the greater the risk to your health.
Here’s everything you need to know about missing teeth and their effects on your health.
First of all…what causes missing teeth?
The most common causes of missing teeth include:
- Traumatic injury
- Gum disease
- Tooth decay
- Oral cancer
- Congenital condition (condition present at birth)
The American College of Prosthodontists estimates that 120 million U.S. Americans are missing at least one tooth!
Top 3 missing teeth problems
So now that we know what causes missing teeth, let’s talk about what happens after a tooth is lost and the long-term effects of missing teeth.
1. Bone loss
Each tooth works in accordance with the jaw bone to provide support for the rest of the teeth and the surrounding bone. The jaw bone will remain strong as long as it’s stimulated by chewing or biting. When a tooth is missing, the remaining bone (alveolar bone) is no longer exercised through biting and chewing. The underlying bone weakens and leads to further bone loss, which affects everything from the appearance of the face, to the ability to chew, and even the ability to speak. In fact, tooth loss is actually the leading cause of bone loss!
2. Difficulty chewing, eating, and speaking.
It’s no secret that each tooth plays a vital role in the ability to chew, eat, and speak. When teeth are missing, these basic functions can become incredibly challenging.
If any of the front teeth are missing, it’s difficult to bite into a variety of foods, like apples, pears, or corn-on-the-cob. If you have missing back teeth, it’s tough to chew foods that require these strong, durable molars to grind food. Eating foods that require heavy-duty chewing, like meat or nuts, is significantly more challenging (and in some cases, nearly impossible) with missing back teeth.
3. Poor bite conditions and unbalanced facial structures.
Among the dangers of missing teeth are poor bites (malocclusions) and unbalanced facial structures which contribute to facial symmetry.
The position of your bite is incredibly important for a number of reasons. Your bite affects your ability to chew, speak, eat, and breathe. When teeth are missing, the remaining teeth have a tendency to shift and fill in the gaps. Teeth surrounding the missing tooth will drift toward other teeth, creating a misaligned bite. Teeth that fall out of line may constrict the airways, elicit pain when pressure is applied to them, or obstruct the tongue’s movements.
Similarly, as the teeth shift and the bite repositions itself, your entire facial structure is altered. As bone loss occurs in place of missing teeth, the jaw starts to atrophy, contributing to a shriveled, sunken-in appearance.
Avoid missing teeth problems with periodontal and implantology treatment!
You don’t have to accept living with missing teeth. Our board-certified periodontists can help restore your functionality, reduce bone loss, and help you gain back your confidence! Dr. Stilley, Dr. Medina, and Dr. Mashkouri are all dedicated to improving your gum health and providing you with the resources you need to maintain a beautiful, healthy smile. When you visit us, we’ll examine your condition and discuss our treatment options to help you make the best decision for your health.
We’re here to support you and your gums! Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We love to hear from you.