Many people don’t want to admit — and therefore refuse to deal with — that they have a missing tooth or missing teeth. There seems to be a level of shame associated with losing adult teeth, but this phenomenon is common and not shameful. The truth is, most adults have lost at least one tooth — 1/4 of people over the age of 65 have lost all of their teeth, nearly 70 percent of people aged 35 to 44 have at least one missing tooth, and tooth loss results from a number of factors ranging from injury to gum disease.
What we’re trying to say is that losing teeth is a reality for many adults, and the real problem isn’t the lost tooth itself, but not doing something to fix it. Still not convinced? We invite you to read on to learn why you really should replace your missing teeth.
We like to think that childhood is the only time that we lose our teeth, but as mentioned above, adults lose teeth for a number of reasons. One of the most common is gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Periodontal disease attacks the structures that act to anchor your teeth into your mouth: your gums. This is caused by the build up of bacteria on the teeth and around the gums, which turns the starches and sugars that you eat into acid. Eventually, these acids start to eat at your gums, causing them to recede. But wait; didn’t we just say that your gums help to anchor your teeth into your mouth? That’s right, and as your gums recede, your teeth become more and more unstable in your mouth. If periodontal disease isn’t treated, it can lead to — you guessed it — tooth loss. But gum disease isn’t the only cause of tooth loss.
Injuries, such as sporting accidents and everyday falls, can cause trauma to your teeth, your jaw bone, and your gums. Sometimes, people don’t even notice the trauma caused by an injury until months or even years afterwards. Sadly, this means that by the time you notice that there is a problem, the tooth root has likely experienced advanced damage and cannot be fixed without removing the tooth.
There are also rare instances of genetic diseases that involve tooth loss, such as anodontia and ectodermal dysplasia. Anodontia refers to the congenital absence of all primary or permanent teeth, and ectodermal dysplasia is when the teeth are cone- or peg-shaped because the surface of the tooth is not strong enough.
So, why should you replace missing teeth when these events occur?
The job of chewing your food, displaying your sparkly smile, helping you to speak, etc. is not a one-man job. Your teeth are a part of an interconnected, interdependent network; each tooth plays a fundamental role in the function of your mouth, so no single tooth can be missing in action. Your teeth all play a role, so if one tooth is missing, all of the others suffer.
If a tooth is missing, your bite will pick up the slack by shifting to put more pressure on other teeth. Over time, this will cause these other teeth to slowly drift into the unoccupied space where a lost tooth once was. Additionally, the absence of a tooth means that the gum and bone beneath the tooth is no longer stimulated. This causes the jaw bone to begin to shrink and your gums to pull back. As your jaw bone shrinks, it will change your facial structure and cause you to look older than you actually are.
Missing teeth leave crevices that aren’t naturally supposed to be in your mouth, and these crevices create the perfect hiding place for food debris. As food debris builds up around your other teeth, plaque will begin to form and will increase your likelihood of gum infections, leading to more tooth loss. In a way, untreated tooth loss is an endless cycle that will naturally end in more tooth loss.
Missing teeth can even result in something called TMJ disorder. Because missing teeth can lead to changes in the muscles, it can badly affect the muscles on the side of your head that help you chew and rotate your jaw (AKA temporomandibular joints).
At the end of the day, there is really no reason to avoid replacing a missing tooth — the pros far outweigh the cons. Some of the ways that you can replace a tooth include dental implants, all-on-4 and dentures. We talk more in depth about these options in our other blogs: What is All-On-4 and How to Clean Dental Implants. If you’re looking for somebody to help replace a tooth, look no further! We offer lots of options for tooth replacements here at San Antonio Periodontics & Implants, and we’d be happy to help you find the one that’s right for you. We’ll even perform any procedures that you decide on! Contact us to get more information on how we can help you replace a missing tooth.
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