Why You Shouldn’t Ignore a Missing Tooth

When you lose your baby teeth, you have another set ready to move in. But if you lose your adult teeth, you’re out of luck. That’s why it’s such a tragedy that the average 50-year-old has lost 12 of the 32 adult teeth.

Whether you’ve lost a tooth due to accident, injury, infection, smoking, or illness, ignoring it can lead to more problems down the road. If you’ve lost a front tooth, you’re probably pretty motivated to quickly replace it, but you might not have the same sense of urgency to address the gap if it doesn’t affect your smile. 

That could be a big mistake.

Not only does a bright, healthy set of teeth look beautiful and give you confidence, it also helps maintain your overall oral health. If you’re missing a tooth or two, John M. Pisacane, DMD, at Willow Glen Dentistry can close the gap with dental implants that promise to repair your smile, your self-esteem, and your oral health. 

Here are a few reasons why we feel you shouldn’t ignore a missing tooth.

Missing teeth compromise your chewing

When you have a full set of teeth, you may take them for granted. Chewing is second nature to you and comes easily when your teeth are all present and healthy. But when you lose one or more, you understand immediately how important they are. 

The gap makes chewing less efficient. It may take longer to chew or it may become painful. Your gum line where your tooth once was may become tender, so you chew on only one side of your mouth. This can lead to overdeveloped muscles on one jawline and muscle atrophy and bone loss on the other.

You may also notice that food gets stuck in the gap. If it stays there too long, it’s a perfect environment for bacteria and plaque and eventually infection. 

Missing teeth can change the look of your face 

Your teeth are an important part of your facial bone structure. As you age, you not only lose fat and tissue in your skin, which makes it sag, but you also lose volume in your teeth. Years and years of chewing, clenching, and grinding shortens and flattens your teeth enough to cause some significant changes, such as a shorter face, a narrower smile, and sunken cheeks.

If worn teeth can change your profile, imagine what missing teeth can do. Even one missing tooth makes a difference in how your cheek looks; if you’re missing several, you may look much older than you are. But dental implants can restore your appearance.

Missing teeth can result in bone loss

Your teeth do more than chew your food and support your facial muscles and skin; they also play a role in maintaining bone mass in your jaw.

Your jawbone relies on the pressure exerted when you chew for the stimulus it needs to regenerate cells and grow. Your teeth, especially your molars, are embedded in your jaw, and they need each other to thrive. 

When you lose a tooth, the part of the jawbone where it had been attached begins to wither. Eventually, your body reabsorbs the bone, and the effect on your outward appearance becomes even more pronounced.

Dental implants are attached to your jawbone with a titanium rod that performs the same function as your original tooth by applying pressure to the jaw — it saves your bone and your face.

Missing teeth affect neighboring teeth

Like a toddler with no boundaries, your remaining teeth see the gap left by your missing tooth as a playground, and they get into mischief. With nothing to stop them, your teeth naturally gravitate to the empty space, which leads to crooked teeth.

This drifting and shifting also affects the way you chew and can result in a painful bite. Dental implants can solve your bite and give your remaining teeth the support they need.

Missing teeth may lead to gum disease

A lost tooth exposes your gums to more plaque and bacteria, the culprits responsible for gingivitis (the early stage of gum disease) or even periodontitis (advanced gum disease). 

First, they become red and swollen. Then you may notice some bleeding. As the problem progresses, your gums begin to recede and form little pockets of infection. If severe enough, you could lose the surrounding teeth.

Clearly, a missing tooth is more than an aesthetic concern. If you’re missing a tooth, call us to make an appointment with Dr. Pisacane or schedule one online to discover your options. 

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