Whether it’s from an accident or just poor oral hygiene, anyone can lose a tooth or even multiple teeth. You might wonder if it’s really a big deal depending on which tooth you lose; is there any harm in, for example, a gap near the back that nobody else is going to see? The answer is yes! As your dentist in Valparaiso can tell you, no matter how many teeth are missing or where the empty space is, your health and the quality of your life could be badly affected unless you get a replacement.
What Happens When a Tooth is Missing?
The most obvious consequence of missing teeth is that they affect chewing. This can cause a lot of problems depending on the location of the gap. For example, if you’re missing your molars, you might need to chew with smaller teeth that aren’t designed to do the same job. Over time, eating will become even more difficult and it’ll be harder to maintain a varied, nutritious diet.
Furthermore, teeth tend to drift when there’s empty space in the mouth, leading to bite misalignment. An uneven bite can put a lot of stress on your facial muscles and joints, leading to jaw pain, headaches, earaches, neck pain and upper back and shoulder discomfort. The poorly distributed pressure might even fracture your remaining teeth.
Your appearance could suffer as well beyond just the missing tooth. The bone in the now-unused area of the jaw will start to break down, which can eventually lead to the collapse of your facial structure. This can make you look significantly older, and the effect worsens when more teeth are missing.
What Can You Do About Missing Teeth?
There are a few different options for tooth replacement; the best one for you depends entirely on your unique situation – how many teeth are missing, the overall state of your oral health and so on. A single tooth can be replaced by a dental implant. This is a metal post surgically inserted into the jawbone to serve as the root for a crown. An implant will provide chewing power almost equal to that of the natural tooth, and it can adequately fill the empty space to prevent drifting; it’ll also stimulate the jawbone and keep it from deteriorating.
You can also get a dental bridge to replace a few teeth in a row or a denture if an entire arch is gone. Both will let you eat and speak normally again, but because they sit on the gums, they won’t prevent bone loss. However, multiple implants can support a bridge or a denture so that you can enjoy the benefits of each.
There’s no single “right” option for replacing missing teeth; every patient will have different needs. Talk to your dentist about the choices available for reclaiming a beautiful, fully functional smile!
About the Author
Dr. Jim Arnold is an active member of several dental groups, including the American Dental Association and the Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics. He is highly skilled in placing dental implants that are then topped by beautiful, natural-looking crowns, bridges and dentures. To schedule an appointment, visit his website or call 219-926-5445.