Do you have missing teeth? You may be wondering if it’s worth your while to have them replaced. Even if they aren’t visible when you smile, the effects of missing teeth can be widespread. Here are just a handful of reasons why it’s best to restore your smile back to its full potential, as soon as you can.
Your Adjacent Teeth Tilt Out of Place
A missing tooth is essentially like taking a book off of a crowded bookcase. When you do, the ones on either side will ultimately tilt out of place or they’ll all shift out of alignment.
After teeth begin to move out of alignment the only way to “put them back” is to use aligners or orthodontic appliances to physically move them. Your teeth rely on one another to maintain a certain position. If one suddenly goes missing, it can create a chain reaction that spreads throughout your entire smile. Your entire arch of teeth will be affected, not just the teeth immediately next to the missing one.
But if you have a tooth that needs to be extracted, having a game plan can help you avoid complications. Quickly replacing the tooth after its removal will eliminate the risk of your teeth moving, compared to just waiting and crossing your fingers that something doesn’t happen.
Opposing Teeth “Super-erupt”
Just like the teeth on either side of a missing tooth can move, the opposite teeth can too. When they don’t have a tooth to bite against, they tend to start drifting up and out of their socket in an attempt to find a biting partner. We call this scenario “super-eruption.”
With super-eruption comes a whole host of other oral health complications. Aesthetic concerns, exposed roots, sensitive teeth, increased risk of cavities, and food getting caught between teeth.
As a tooth super erupts, it will also wear away at whatever it’s biting against, which may be just one area of another tooth. And if you do replace a missing tooth after one starts to super-erupt, it may mean there’s no longer adequate space to install a tooth replacement. The only way to correct the problem would be to place something smaller or attempt to move the teeth back with braces to create space for a fixed restoration.
Irregular Wear Patterns
If you might have guessed from the previous two issues, losing a tooth changes everything about the way your teeth bite together. And although enamel is extremely dense and durable, it can’t withstand irregular tooth-on-tooth wear. So, when teeth start to drift out of alignment, it changes the biting relationships throughout your mouth.
When biting patterns are changed, so is the pressure on specific points on certain teeth. Each time you bite or chew food, it places additional wear on those areas. Over time, your enamel will gradually start to wear down irregularly, creating flattened or sharp areas throughout your smile.
Tooth changes are just one side effect of irregular wear patterns. You will also likely start to see broken or cracked dental work, such as fillings or crowns.
To preserve your treatment investments and your healthy, natural tooth enamel, it’s best to replace the missing tooth at your earliest opportunity.
TMJ Pain or Joint Disorder
When our teeth shift or tilt out of place and irregular biting patterns develop, the complications begin to radiate into other areas besides our mouth. In this case, your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ.
If you go quite some time with missing teeth, you might start to notice that you’re having to chew on one side of your mouth or alter the way you chew your food. Uneven, irregular TMJ motions will gradually take a toll on the muscles, ligaments, and disk inside your joint. This can spiral into painful headaches, popping, limited range of motion, and other TMJ issues.
Some of the best ways to avoid (and treat) TMJ problems boil back to establishing healthy biting patterns via braces or dental implants to replace missing teeth. Simply addressing the joint pain in and of itself won’t improve anything, as the conditions leading to the discomfort are continuing to exacerbate the problem.
Bone Loss (Resorption)
Resorption is the word we use to describe shrinking bone in the jaws around your teeth. Resorbing bone is typical after a tooth falls out or extracted. While it may not seem like a concern since there’s no longer a tooth there for your bone to support, it does mean that the support around the adjacent teeth will be compromised.
The only way to help combat resorption is to place something like a dental implant into that space after your tooth is extracted. Since dental implants are naturally attractive to bone, your body will form an extremely thin layer around the implant. This integration process also helps to halt and delay bone loss caused by resorption.
Keep in mind that not all tooth replacement treatments help with resorption. Something like a denture or bridge that goes over your gums will not strengthen the bone, while on the other hand, dental implants placed into the jaw are extremely helpful.
Premature Aging in Your Smile
With bone loss comes a lack of support for your facial tissues and oral anatomy. Missing teeth lead to shrunken bone, which leads to sunken-in cheeks, lips, and a shorter looking jaw. In short, missing teeth make your face look far older than you really are.
Filling in the gap that’s created by a missing tooth helps to add the reinforcement your soft tissues need for fuller, more attractive facial features. This could be anything from dental implants and bridges to a “facelift” denture that’s specifically meant to restore volume and fullness to your face.
The longer you wait to replace missing teeth, the more aggressive the loss of support will become. Restoring full volume to your face can take quite the planning. Getting ahead of the game can help you completely avoid looking older than you feel. Partnering with the best cosmetic dentist in Raleigh is just the first step!
Remember the way a child sounds when they talk after losing a tooth? Slurring, difficulty making certain speech sounds, and even minor speech impediments make it difficult to understand what they’re saying at times. Tooth loss impacts the way adult voices sound, too.
For people who are considering having their teeth removed and replaced with dentures, the learning curve is just as difficult. Any number of missing teeth or removable appliances can pose a bit of a challenge with speaking. The good news is that plenty of practice and a custom tooth replacement can help them get things back on track.
Diet and Nutritional Concerns
A healthy set of teeth is the first step in great digestion. Your mouth grinds down and breaks up everything you eat, allowing for proper nutrient absorption elsewhere in your digestive tract.
When people aren’t able to chew well, one of two things can happen. Either they eat the same foods and start to experience problems like GI issues or weight loss, because their body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs. Or they change their diet to include more softer and processed foods that are easier to chew, which also lead to dietary deficiencies.
Having a healthy dentition (set of teeth to chew with) is crucial to good overall health. Without them, your body won’t be able to get the energy it needs to perform well or fight off infections. Losing one tooth here or there may not seem like a huge concern, but as it evolves into loss of multiple teeth it will significantly affect your lifestyle.
If you have a loved one in your family who is struggling with GI issues or nutrient deficiencies, their lack of healthy teeth may partially be to blame.
Missing teeth impact the way you look and how you feel about yourself. If no other health reason is strong enough to convince you to replace missing teeth, your self-esteem should. When you feel too embarrassed to smile around other people it will impact every aspect of your lifestyle. From personal and romantic relationships to professional connections or making new friends, your smile is one of the first things people notice. Not being able to share it can create impressions you want to avoid, such as coming off unfriendly or unhappy.
If you’ve ever caught yourself feeling too embarrassed by your teeth—missing or not—to laugh or smile around someone else, it’s time to talk to our Raleigh cosmetic dentistry team. The investment in your own self-worth is priceless.
Missing Tooth Replacement | Raleigh
Raleigh Dental Arts offers a variety of treatment options to replace your missing teeth. From dental implants to porcelain bridges and everything in-between, we have solutions for every smile (and lifestyle.)
If you have missing teeth, it’s best to replace them as soon as you can. Contact our dentist in Raleigh today to discuss your options. Flexible payment plans are available.