Missing teeth are a problem for patients of any age. Younger adults can lose teeth due to tooth decay, physical injury, or oral disease. It’s also expected that older adults will slowly lose teeth over time due to the problems that arise with aging. When you’re missing even a single tooth, you may not notice that there are factors that could negatively impact your oral health and physical comfort. However, they do exist and they will start to create multiple problems over time if not addressed.
A missing tooth can cause:
- Irritation and inflammation of the gums. When there’s an empty spot in your bite line, food may naturally fall there when you’re eating, or it may be ground into that spot by other teeth. Foods that are spicy, or crunchy, can rub against this exposed area of the gum, and lead to small abrasions, which then give bacteria an entry point into your soft tissue.
- Damage to adjacent teeth, which comes from the added stress of having to make up for the lost chewing ability of the missing tooth. Again, you may not initially notice any changes, but you will have to readjust the way that you grind food with your teeth, and that can lead to doing so at angles which are unintended for the structure of the mouth. Chewing on odd angles can impact your jaw health, but more importantly, it can also put pressure on teeth from directions they aren’t supposed to receive. That can lead to cracks, chips, or total breakage.
- Bone loss in older patients. The bone of the jaw receives nutrients and blood flow based on stimulation from the act of chewing, and from pressure. When there’s a gap between the teeth in your bite, that part of the jaw won’t be receiving that vital feedback, which means that it won’t be able to maintain its current density. Over time, that can lead to bone density loss that could require bone grafts and other forms of correction.
You can see that it is more than just a cosmetic or esthetic issue: a missing tooth can lead to a number of other oral health complications and undesired outcomes. The good news is that such problems can be entirely avoided by means of an implant. Dental implants have more than sixty years of testing and practical use, backing their usefulness in modern dental applications, and the field continues to expand into new ideas on how to make implants that are more affordable, longer lasting, and more comfortable for the patient.
If you’ve got a missing tooth, and you’ve been on the fence about what you should do about it, then you may want to schedule a consultation with Dr. Bonbright to learn more about your options. You will be surprised at just how much of a difference a dental implant could make in the way that you both look and feel, as well as how affordable they can be when you make the necessary financial arrangements. It’s always worth your time to take care of your oral health.