Tooth loss is not uncommon over the course of your life. Sometimes teeth fall out in an accident. Sometimes they fall victim to gum disease or decay and need to be removed. While expense or inconvenience may tempt you not to replace a missing tooth, we strongly advise against it. Although you may not realize it, there can be lots of trickle-down effects from a missing tooth.
When you lose a tooth, the gap in your gums becomes a haven for bacteria. As bacteria grow and thrive in the warm, sheltered environment, they begin to eat away at your jaw. This causes irreparable damage to your bone. Lost bone cannot be regrown, and eventually enough bone loss can significantly alter your facial appearance and overall health.
More tooth loss
Additionally, the growth of bacteria in your mouth where a tooth used to be can spell disaster for surrounding teeth. That bacteria has a foothold to attack other parts of your mouth. It is very common for one missing tooth to be the beginning of several decayed or missing teeth.
When you lose a tooth, especially towards the back of your mouth, your bite changes slightly. Even slight changes have huge effects on your mouth! This change can cause TMJ Disease and pain. TMJ can lead to uncomfortable jaw popping and headaches. Improper bite may also cause other parts of your mouth to become irritated or inflamed as teeth begin to hit each other harshly when you chew.
Uneven wear on other teeth
When you alter your bite, even if it doesn’t cause immediate acute pain, it can cause teeth to rub each other and wear unevenly. This can cause problems when you wear through your enamel and expose the underlaying, sensitive dentin layer. Teeth with exposed dentin are very sensitive to hot, cold, and sweet foods. They are also more likely to decay.
Chewing is an important step in digestion! It does the hard work of breaking foods down into manageable pieces for your stomach acids to digest. Saliva also has essential enzyme which begins breaking down your food and can even kill food borne pathogens. When you have a missing tooth, it can affect the way you chew, where you chew in your mouth, and how effective your chewing is. Not chewing your food properly can lead to heartburn and damage to your esophagus as food and acid backs up into the esophagus from the stomach. Additionally, when food is too large, you sacrifice some of the nutrition. Your body is not able to process it effectively and extract all the nutrients.
Your teeth are an essential part of the structure of your mouth, which allows us to make the range of sounds we need to speak. Just consider how much you use your teeth when saying “thin” “vase” or “fan”. Depending on where the tooth is missing, you may have slurred speech, a lisp, or be completely unable to make certain sounds.
It is important to help maintain the structure of your mouth for the health of all your teeth, digestion, and speech. Beyond that, consider the confidence a complete, healthy smile can give you! If you are worried about losing a tooth, or already have, we can advise you on the best way to keep your whole body healthy. Sometimes the best choice is a root canal to save the tooth, but teeth that are already missing can also be replaced with dental implants or a bridge. Contact our office today if you’re concerned and we would love to help you make a plan.