If you’re missing a tooth, it may be causing more severe consequences than just a gap in your smile. Missing or broken teeth can lead to unexpected side effects if you put off having the missing tooth replaced with an implant or dental bridge.
Here’s a look at the negative impacts a missing tooth can have on your overall health and wellbeing.
Improper Bite and Jaw Disorders
The gap left by one or more missing teeth causes an imbalance of orthodontic or dental pressure within the mouth. When the teeth no longer bite together as they would with a full set of upper and lower teeth, it leads to malalignment and malocclusion. The entire jaw can become impacted, leading to a clicking jaw or improper temporomandibular joint (TMJ) function.
Tooth and Bone Loss
A damaged tooth is more likely to become infected as plaque and bacteria colonize around and within the tooth. Infected dental pulp houses the tooth’s nerves and blood supply. When infection sets in, you begin to experience discomfort and toothaches. An infected tooth, left untreated, can spread infection through the blood supply and tooth root canals, causing further potential tooth loss.
Some patients are surprised to learn that your permanent teeth are not locked into place. Your mature adult teeth can shift over time just like they do when you are a child. The teeth surrounding the missing tooth will try to merge into the free space, which will lead to difficulties with eating, speaking, and more. Some patients experience discomfort as their teeth begin moving around in their mouth because their gums, jawbone, and other teeth are being forcefully moved.
Your jawbone gets its strength from the contact it has with your teeth and the movements your mouth makes throughout the day. If there is no tooth to rub against a particular area of your jaw bone, this causes the bone to wear away over time. A lack of jaw bone makes it difficult for a dental implant to be placed. Putting off an implant now may make the process more difficult later on with requiring additional procedures like a bone graft.
Changes to Your Appearance
The entire shape of your face could change as a result of a missing tooth. The bone loss described above can cause a person’s face to collapse, especially if multiple teeth are missing from one area. Another complication of missing teeth is bone resorption. When bone resorbs, the jaw contours tend to shrink, resulting in wrinkled lips and a sunken mouth and face. This can make a person look significantly older.
Emotional and Psychological Distress
Pain, poor oral health and weakening physical health can quickly impact your emotional and psychological health. Some patients develop mental health conditions such as depression, or social anxiety, as a result of tooth loss.
Restoring Your Smile With Dental Implants
A dental implant is, for many, the next best thing to your healthy, natural tooth. Dental implants provide you with a solid, stable artificial tooth root that is placed directly into the jaw bone. The implant is then able to hold a replacement crown or bridge that feels, looks, and functions just like a natural tooth.
If you’re missing one or more teeth, schedule a consultation today to learn more about restoring your smile and confidence with dental implants.