Some people are quite happy to have missing teeth and can cope well after they have lost a tooth. It is important to understand the possible consequences of leaving a missing tooth for a long period of time. Missing teeth cannot only lead to crowding in your mouth and teeth leaning in but the longer a missing tooth is left the more difficult it can be to replace. A missing tooth can lead to a number of serious issues such as aesthetic changes through to serious health concerns if dental treatment is not sought.
One of the more serious issues that can arise from a missing tooth is bone resorption. As your jaw bone is continually stimulated by chewing and biting when a tooth is lost this stimulation stops. A consequence of this is that it can cause a loss to the part of your jawbone that contains the roots of your teeth (alveolar bone). Due to this over time gum tissue starts to recede therefore exposing the tooth roots.
The bone below the alveolar bone begins to resorb affecting the shape of your face, cheeks, and chin. This may begin to affect your speech as well as your ability to chew. While this process may be slow it can be quite painful and uncomfortable causing sensitive teeth as well as headaches. Do not put off making an appointment to see us as the sooner you seek advice the better the outcome will be for your teeth.
There are many problems associated with missing teeth. While bone resorption may be a scary thought there are also smaller issues to take into consideration before choosing to ignore a missing tooth. Some of these issues include:
- Once a tooth is lost adjacent teeth often drift into its space which leads to leaning teeth as well as crowding.
- Teeth either side of a missing tooth may tip or rotate. This can affect your bite and place strain or your jaw joints causing pain.
- Missing teeth can lead to gum issues, root decay, and sensitive teeth and can cause periodontal issues.
- Unfortunately losing a tooth can cause an uneven bite. This can cause you to chew more on one side than the other causing strain on that side, therefore, increasing problems in that area.
- The tooth or teeth opposite the missing tooth may supra-erupt. What this means is the teeth grow down and out of the gum. This, in turn, can lead to periodontal disease.
- A missing tooth can affect speech as well as your smile.
If you have been involved in an accident where you accidentally knock out an adult tooth do not panic. It is important that you handle this tooth with care by rinsing it gently under cold running water and placing it in a container with some milk. If the tooth has been knocked out cleanly and you are not in too much pain or the injury to your mouth is not severe then place the tooth back in its socket gently. Bute down on a piece of gauze or a clean handkerchief to hold it in place. While this may be difficult to do it will help your dental professional re-implant the tooth and keep the root healthy. However, in this circumstance, it is best to contact us for an emergency appointment.
Failure to see your dentist may result in the socket becoming infected and reimplanting the tooth may not be possible. For more information on how to look after a missing or broken tooth, you may read or article what to do if you have a broken tooth. If you love to play sports we highly recommend a custom-made sport mouthguard. (Information can be found by visiting our blog why mouthguards are important during playing sport.