Effects of Missing Teeth

All the consequences of tooth loss and why you shouldn’t ignore them.

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You don't want to ignore missing teeth

Tooth loss has several ramifications, making it essential to replace and restore gaps as soon as possible. A minimum of six months of tooth loss can cause the bone in the jaw to deplete.

When the bone in the jaw begins to deplete, a domino effect of several consequences can occur, such as tooth movement, tooth loss, and changes to the bite and facial structure.

If you want to save your other teeth, opting for traditional missing teeth treatments like dental bridges or dentures is not enough. These traditional prosthetics do not stop bone loss but rather cosmetically close the gaps. Dental implants, in this case, do both. They improve the look of your smile and promote strong bone condition and oral health as they replace the tooth’s root. 

Read on to see more effects of missing teeth.

Bone loss is on the cards

Remember, bone does not grow back.

The fact is, when you lose a tooth, the surrounding bone has served its purpose and thus tends to regress and resorb away. The bone is an important part of your tooth structure as it holds the teeth in place, which can effect other teeth in the row.

In this respect, your jawbone behaves very similarly to muscles. If muscles are used constantly, they remain strong and present. However, if you stop using any particular muscle, it will slowly waste away. This is called atrophy.

Bone requires stimulation from teeth to remain dense and strong. When teeth are lost, the jawbone surrounding them tends to become atrophic and less dense, resorbing away and losing its form. This puts you at risk for facial sagging, tooth movement, and further tooth loss. You might not realise this process is happening until you begin to suffer the consequences. 

Over time, when the jawbone loses its shape and density, it becomes very thin and weak, which causes instability and retention problems, hence why dentures tend to be loose-fitting. 

Continuous stimulation is required to retain this bone, which is why dental implants are so successful. However, if you opt for a dental implant once the bone begins to deplete, you might require a bone graft to restore bone in this area to withstand an implant and restore your missing tooth.

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Teeth can begin to move

  • There are many adverse effects on the bite functioning as a direct consequence of losing teeth.
  • When teeth are removed, the neighbouring teeth may move into the space created by the lost tooth.

When there’s no tooth to keep other teeth in line, the remaining teeth on either side of the gap may shift towards each other, which can cause improper alignment that puts extra pressure onto existing teeth, putting them at greater risk of breakage or fracture.

Common consequences to expect are crooked teeth, super-eruption or new gaps that might appear between teeth, which has many knock-on effects on the rest of the mouth. 

To prevent teeth from moving into the gap caused by tooth loss or extraction, traditional tooth replacement methods like dental bridges, dentures and implants can fill the gap and ensure neighbouring teeth stay in their natural positions.

However, bear in mind, that when adjacent teeth move, future treatments become increasingly complex and more expensive. This leads to more complex treatment plans that involve several different kinds of dentists.

Read: Dental implants vs dental bridges.

Even more dental complications

  • Bite discrepancies: When teeth are not aligned as they should be, their biting surfaces are tilted incorrectly. Wear facets form, further disrupting the bite patterns. As a result, the bite becomes unbalanced. This can lead to fractures.
  • Excess tooth wear: When teeth are lost, the remaining teeth tend to take the brunt of the biting forces and, over time, will wear faster. This is especially true when the back teeth are lost. Visible incisors can also be affected in front teeth.
  • The smile’s aesthetics will deteriorate: Missing teeth can lead to discrepancies, such as developing crowding or spacing between teeth. This begins to negatively impact the smile and aesthetics over time.
  • Gum disease: As the other teeth move, the likelihood of plaque and tartar building up increases. This is because it becomes increasingly more difficult to clean the teeth due to the extra nooks and crannies developing around the teeth.
  • Losing your front teeth can affect the pronunciation of your words and thus affect your speech.
  • Chewing performance. One of the most critical functions of teeth is to break down your food. You may experience nutritional deficiencies since your body might not be able to absorb the proper nutrients from the foods you cannot break down.

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