Because it’s a common problem, you may not be too worried about a missing tooth. In fact, an estimated 178 million Americans are in the same boat. But complications can come with an empty tooth socket.
At Ueno Center Dental Specialists, we recommend a number of tooth replacement options over leaving an area of your mouth with a missing tooth. Our founder, Jeremy K. Ueno, DMD and our other providers would be happy to help you find the best option for your oral health and your budget when it comes to tooth replacement.
Severe tooth loss — or the loss of eight or more teeth — is also pervasive in the United States. A quarter of American adults over the age of 65 are missing this many teeth.
Below are some of the most common and the most severe complications associated with one or more missing teeth. And of course, the more teeth you’re missing, the more likely it is to lead to problems that affect your health.
If you are missing a tooth, particularly a back molar, you might start to notice your teeth shifting inside your mouth. This might not seem like a problem at first, but a malocclusion (or a misaligned bite) eventually causes other issues if not corrected.
A missing tooth coupled with shifting of the remaining teeth can often lead to problems doing the things you used to do easily. For example, a malocclusion can make it harder to eat or speak normally.
Periodontal disease accounted for the third most instances of tooth loss in a 2014 study; trauma and tooth decay were the top two. But in many instances, tooth loss can lead to gum disease if you don’t have it already.
Not only is periodontitis itself a problem, but it has been shown to increase the chances of developing other illnesses, such as heart disease, respiratory disease, arthritis, and complications with diabetes.
You might not know that your teeth support your jawbone just as much as the reverse. When you bite down to chew your food, the two teeth making contact strengthen your jawbone like exercise does for your muscles. If you are missing a tooth, you lose this process.
Bone loss in the jaw is often attributed to a missing tooth that wasn’t replaced. When this occurs, problems with oral health often occur quickly and all at once. You’re likely to see changes in your facial features, decay and loss of other teeth, and bone fractures.
Physical health problems lead to psychological ones as well. Missing a tooth — especially a front tooth — can make you uncomfortable, creating a feeling of embarrassment and loss of self-confidence.
Missing a front tooth can also affect your social and professional life. You might find it harder to meet friends or romantic partners and even have difficulty finding work.
You should always consider replacing missing teeth, but you have many options, including dentures, bridges, and implants. At Ueno Center Dental Specialists, we’re happy to work with you to determine the best option for your specific needs.