Why You Shouldn't Ignore a Missing Tooth

Losing a tooth in an accident or because of dental disease is a traumatic event. Unfortunately, by the time they’re 65, about half of women and men in the US have lost at least one tooth. Even if you aren’t concerned about the aesthetics of your smile because the gap is in the back of your mouth, you need to replace your missing tooth to preserve your oral and overall health.

At Dental Center of Tysons Corner in McLean, Virginia, our expert and compassionate dentists. Dr. Maqsood Chaudhry and Dr. H.R. Makarita, work with you to help you find the best type of tooth replacement for your needs and budget. Though you may be concerned mostly about how your mouth looks without a tooth, tooth replacement is about far more than your appearance:

Your gums are more susceptible to infection

The most important reason to replace your missing tooth is that a gap in your gums that isn’t protected by a tooth or a dental implant is more easily infected. Each time you eat, you introduce millions of bacteria into your mouth. Your teeth and tooth roots are an important barrier that keeps the bacteria away from sensitive gum tissue and bone.

Without a tooth in place, the bacteria can invade the open part of your gums and travel deep into the tissue and bone. Since you can’t brush into your gums, the bacteria can easily proliferate, leading to an infection. An infection in your gums can spread throughout your mouth, endangering the safety of your other teeth and risking their permanent loss, too.

Even worse, a gum infection (known as periodontitis) can get into your bloodstream, causing a septic infection. Septic infections can affect all of the organs in your body, leading to heart attack, stroke, or death.

Your teeth grow toward the gap

Although you may not think the gap in your teeth is a big deal, your teeth actually rely on one another to maintain a healthy and strong alignment. Once a tooth goes missing, the teeth around it lose part of their support, both at the crown (top of the tooth) and at the root. Without the pressure of the missing tooth pushing against them, these adjoining teeth grow toward the gap, shifting all of your other teeth out of alignment.

Even the teeth on the opposite side of your arch can grow toward your missing tooth. When your teeth grow inward, toward the missing tooth, it’s referred to as a “super eruption.” Super erupted teeth cause all the other teeth around them to shift position, too.

You lose bone

When you chew, the pressure travels through your tooth, down the root and into your jaw bone. Constant daily pressure on the bone from eating your meals signals your jawbone that it’s still needed, so it continues to create new bone cells. When your tooth is gone, however, your jawbone doesn’t get the pressure it needs to replenish its cells.

Over time, the lack of pressure on your jawbone leads to jaw atrophy. If you have more than one missing tooth, you may notice that your entire lower face looks shorter than it did when you were younger. The best tooth replacement to maintain healthy pressure on your jaw is a surgically inserted dental implant.

You cause other problems

When you’re missing a tooth, it’s natural to change the way you chew. However, when you shift pressure in your jawbone, you can end up stressing the hinge of your jaw, creating a painful condition called temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. 

A missing tooth or teeth also affects how well you chew your food. Food that isn’t thoroughly chewed can cause digestive problems.

The best and most natural type of tooth replacement —which restores your smile and oral function — is a dental implant. We insert the dental implant during an in-office surgical procedure. The implant mimics the function of a natural tooth root, and the crown looks just like your real tooth.

Whether you want dental implants to replace your missing tooth, or a bridge or dentures for many missing teeth, contact us today. You can call our friendly team, or use the online form.

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