Sometimes it’s tempting to ignore a missing tooth, especially those back molars that aren’t in plain sight. However, there are health concerns related to missing teeth and it’s important you replace them as soon as possible. Let’s explore why:
Teeth actually exert pressure on neighboring teeth, which helps keep them strong and stable. When a tooth is missing, so is the pressure it would exert, which can result in teeth shifting positions over time. Moreover, the tooth above the missing tooth can actually grow into the gap created. Once horizontal and vertical shifts start to accumulate, one’s bite pattern can change which can affect both speech and eating.
When a tooth is missing, the pressure needed to chew food is distributed over less teeth. This can result in damage to the remaining teeth, especially if the wrong tooth is used for the wrong purpose. For example, molars are built to mash and grind food while canines are built to rip it, and if one tooth tries to do the job of another, it can wear down or crack. In addition, chewing becomes less efficient and poorly chewed food can cause digestive issues.
A missing tooth can also cause the neighboring gum to recede. This also causes surrounding gum that’s used to support your other teeth to pull back and puts those teeth at risk of collapsing.
With a missing tooth, there’s a pit in your mouth in which bacteria can accumulate and get infected if not cleaned properly. It’s easy to miss this pit while brushing, which can result in bad breath followed by long-term complications such as gum disease.
Finally, replacing a missing tooth can help you look better. Missing teeth affect many aspects of your appearance, such as the shape of your jawbone, lips, and cheeks. Without your full set of teeth, your jawbone will atrophy and your cheeks will become sunken and hollow.
The best options for replacing missing teeth are dental implants or bridges. They will fill the gap where your missing tooth was, restoring functionality and improving your appearance. Most importantly though, they prevent health complications down the line.