What’s so Bad About Missing a Tooth?
Missing teeth are never fun. But, you might just be tempted to slide by without replacing it, especially if it’s further back and not visible when you speak or smile. After all, it only feels strange for a little while, right? You can get used to it and everything’s back to normal after a while, right? Maybe not.
The truth of it is that missing teeth can have serious consequences, both mentally and physically. However, you can rest assured that replacement is a relatively simple procedure, and one that pays off loads in the long run. Here’s an overview about missing teeth from The Bondi Dentists:
What Physical Consequences can arise from Missing Teeth?
When a tooth is lost, it leaves behind a gap. The neighbouring teeth will begin to shift toward the gap over time, attempting to fill the space of the jaw. If left unattended, this can lead to a condition known as malocclusion, or a misalignment of the teeth. Malocclusion can lead to further complications, such as an increased risk for tooth decay, difficulty chewing, and an overbite or cross-bite that places additional strain on the jaw when chewing. And, if the resulting tooth decay is left untreated, it too can cascade into other dental issues quickly.
If you see a dentist to treat a missing tooth early on, you’ll simply do a single tooth replacement. A bit of preventative cosmetic dentistry, and you’re done. However, if you wait until a malocclusion occurs, you may end up on the line for braces or even surgery. Bottom line: Getting a single tooth replaced is heaps easier on the wallet than an involved dental procedure.
Another common problem with missing teeth is that it makes it harder to chew your food properly. This can in turn lead to other digestive issues, such as acid reflux and malnutrition from the inability to absorb enough nutrients from the larger chunks of food in the digestive tract. This is one reason even one of those back molars that most people can’t see should be replaced as soon as possible.
Over time, missing teeth can lead to a loss in bone density in the jaw. Your bones are constantly changing, taking away what isn’t necessary and strengthening the things under stress. When you use your teeth, that stress is transferred into the jaw, telling the body to make the bone strong and healthy. However, when teeth are missing, they no longer stress that section of jaw each day, causing the jawline to lose bone and weaken.
What about the Mental Consequences?
Here’s the thing. A smile is a really personal thing. When you’re happy with your smile, you open up and share with others. You allow yourself to be seen and heard. When you’re not happy with your smile, whether you know it or not, there’s a tendency to close off or sell yourself short. And if we don’t feel confident about how we look, other people pick up on it.
It’s not just a matter of pride, though. Eating is a pretty intimate activity, too. When eating becomes more of a chore and less of a joy, it’s time to do something about the situation. Overall, missing one or more teeth can impact your self-esteem and lower your overall quality of life.
ProTips from The Bondi Dentist: How do you treat a missing tooth?
Here’s the good news. Advances in dentistry since our parents’ generation have made replacing a missing tooth a relatively simple procedure.
Dental implants are one of the most common ways to address missing teeth. Implants consist of a crown or denture fixed to the jaw by a titanium post. The full procedure will take around three months from beginning to end, giving your mouth time to heal before the denture or crown is applied. Both temporary crown and implant can be applied on the same day, and you can return to your schedule while a permanent crown is created. At the end you have a new tooth that looks and feels just like the old one.
Other options such as removable dentures and permanently fixed structures such as a bridge are also available. These options rely heavily on the presence of neighbouring teeth and may not be possible in some cases. A thorough assessment of your existing gap is highly advised to ensure all your possible options are discussed and that you have all the information you need to make an informed choice.
If you’ve got a missing tooth and you’d like to discuss your options, feel free to contact us. At The Bondi Dentists, we know teeth, and we know they matter.