Why You Should Always Replace Missing Teeth

January 20, 2024

Tooth loss is common and tends to be more prevalent after middle age. Typical causes of tooth loss include gum disease, severe decay, and injury. It's a common misconception that a person does not need to replace missing teeth, especially if the missing tooth is in the back of their mouth where it cannot be seen. Replacing missing teeth is an important part of restoring function and confidence in your smile.

Below, we discuss some of the reasons you should replace missing teeth and the treatment options that are available. Of course, your situation is unique and we provide custom recommendations during your consultation.

What Happens If You Do Not Replace A Tooth?

1) Bone Loss

Teeth are important for the health of your gums and jawbones. The presence of tooth roots stimulates these tissues, and without stimulation, the body can gradually reabsorb parts of your gums and jaw. Severe bone loss may change the structure and appearance of your face.

  • Loss of the upper jawbone creates an inward curve in the face that is often referred to as facial collapse.
  • Deterioration of the lower jawbone will cause the chin to recede and diminish the jawline.

Also, if you wait too long to replace your missing teeth, you could lose so much bone that your other teeth will lose support. Unfortunately, a person with severe bone loss has limited treatment options. For example, severe bone loss will result in a person not being a candidate for dental implants. It is important to replace missing teeth as soon as possible to prevent any bone loss and minimize the risk of complications.

2) Chewing and Infection Risk

Teeth function as a unit. Properly aligned teeth come together harmoniously when you bite and chew. When you eat and have a missing tooth or teeth, you will not chew properly, which may affect how easily your body can digest food.

Chewing food is the first step in the digestive process. If you are missing teeth in the back of your mouth, it can be difficult to eat chewy, crunchy, or firm foods. You may also experience pain or notice that food is always getting stuck in your gaps. This can cause tooth sensitivity, gum irritation, bad breath, and increase your risk of infection and gum disease.

  • Tooth replacement options can fill the gaps, making it easier and more comfortable to eat all of your favorite foods and lower the risk of gum disease and bacterial infections.

3) Shifting and Bite Alignment

When a gap is left by a missing tooth, the surrounding teeth have a tendency to shift because that tooth is no longer helping to keep them properly positioned and in line. Ultimately, teeth may become crooked, or new gaps may appear between teeth, impacting your occlusion.

Occlusion is the way your teeth contact each other. It is the relationship between the upper and lower teeth, and how they come together when you bite down. A missing tooth eventually changes your bite, interfering with the ideal occlusion you enjoyed previously. By replacing the tooth, a balanced bite can be restored.

What Are Tooth Replacement Options?

Thankfully, there are numerous treatment options when you lose a tooth. Treatment options include various different types of:

  1. Dentures
  2. Dental Bridges
  3. Dental Implants

All of these are viable options to prevent bone loss, shifting, and infection. However, dental implants are the most comprehensive tooth replacement method, replacing both the tooth root in your gum and the visible portion of the tooth.

Ultimately, the treatment option will be based on a person's unique needs, concerns, goals, budget, timeline, and current oral health status. The sooner a missing tooth is treated, the more options a person will have to treat their missing tooth.

Are you missing one or more teeth? We recommend scheduling an appointment to discuss your options. After examining your teeth and mouth, Cosmetic Dentistry of Napa can help you decide which treatment option is right for you. To arrange your visit, please call 707-257-7771 or fill out our online contact form.

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