According to the American College of Prosthodontists, 36 million Americans do not have any teeth, and at least 120 million people in the USA are missing at least one tooth.
The problem of tooth loss isn’t necessarily a by-product of the aging process. Trauma, disease, injuries, infections, family history and poor oral health can also play a part. Like other dental issues missing teeth can cause a whole host of problems if left untreated.
Many people take their teeth for granted and only truly miss them when they’re gone. Whatever the reason for your tooth loss, there are several possible side effects of missing teeth you need to be aware of.
Pain or tooth sensitivity is a common problem immediately after tooth loss. While this may go away after a few days, some people will continue to suffer. As the remaining teeth move into spaces left by missing teeth, they leave sensitive roots exposed to possible painful infections.
Misaligned teeth can cause chronic pain, which means it persists and may even be resistant to medical treatment. The pain may also radiate to the rest of your face, head, neck and even your back.
If you take a book off a shelf, the one next to it shifts position. The same thing happens in your mouth when a tooth falls out. Although they’re still firmly attached to the jaw, the remaining teeth move in an attempt to fill in the gap or gaps. As they shift, they create more spaces for other teeth to move. The net result is crooked teeth and bite problems.
When teeth start to lean, they’re at a higher risk of developing cavities or gum disease, such as periodontal disease, an infection of the tissues that hold your teeth in place. In its early stages, it is called gingivitis, where gums are red, swollen and may bleed. In its more severe form, gums pull away from teeth, bone is lost, and teeth may fall out.
We rely on our teeth to tear at and chew the food we eat so it can be easily swallowed. One missing tooth can make eating frustrating, but the problem becomes more serious when two or more are missing. With fewer teeth to chew your snacks and meals, the more limited the types of foods you can eat. This could mean having to cut some essential foods from your diet. Often people will overuse other teeth to compensate, which can put them at increased risk of damage.
Your teeth help support the shape and structure of your face, and when they’re lost, the gaps can add years to your appearance. If you’ve ever seen someone take out their dentures, you’ll already have an idea of the impact of missing teeth on the way a person looks.
If there are missing teeth, parts of your jawbone start to shrink. This is because it acts in a very similar way to muscles. When muscles are exercised or stimulated, they grow stronger. When they haven’t been exercised for a while, they weaken. The same is true of the bone in your jaw. Only natural teeth or implants can stimulate it.
Another side effect of missing teeth is a problem with speech. Along with the vocal tract, tongue, lips and cheeks, teeth play a role in producing speech. When one or more teeth are missing, you can experience difficulties pronouncing some words, and you may even whistle, slur or spit while speaking.
Unfortunately, one of the side effects of missing teeth is that it can lead to feelings of shame. People are prone to smile less often for fear of revealing the gaps in their mouths.
To prevent the many problems of tooth loss, the best thing to do is replace them straight away. Dental implants are a permanent solution that feel, look, and function like regular teeth. When they are fixed into the bone, they encourage a process known as osseointegration, where new bone layers form on the implant’s surface. Once integrated, the implant and surrounding bone are stabilized and strengthened, which is one of the reasons why implants last so long.
With a new, beautiful, and healthy smile, you will enjoy improved self-confidence that comes with having a natural, healthy smile and teeth that function like teeth.
At Chesterfield Dentistry, we give you back your smile and the functionality you’ve been missing, whether you have a single tooth or a mouthful of teeth missing.
If you want to know more about dental implants, schedule a free consultation at Chesterfield Dentistry. Call us on (314) 682-4587 or use our online booking form. We look forward to hearing from you.