If you’re missing a tooth as a result of an injury, accident, or health issue, you probably want to replace it just so your smile looks normal again. You may not be in a hurry, though, and that’s where the problem comes in for you and the 178 million Americans who are missing at least one tooth.
The cosmetic appeal is a great reason to replace a missing tooth, but it may not even be the most important reason. Replacing a missing tooth is a vital component of maintaining your oral health and your overall health, as we see every day at Portrait Dental.
Here’s what losing a tooth can do to your mouth and your body:
Cause bacterial infections and affect your health
If you’re missing a tooth, it has left a gap between your remaining teeth that provides a perfect pocket where bacteria can gather and thrive. The bacteria can cause gingivitis and then more advanced gum disease — if your gum disease isn’t treated, it can eventually cause more teeth to fall out.
Gum disease also causes your blood vessels to swell, which can allow the infection into your bloodstream, where it can be carried to other parts of your body. Gum disease has also been connected to serious health issues such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Change the alignment of your teeth
If a tooth is missing, the situation will cause issues with the other teeth around it as well. They no longer have the pressure of the missing tooth pushing against them, so they grow toward the gap, which begins to shift those teeth out of alignment. Their structure and integrity then becomes compromised, which can lead to additional issues.
Cause problems with your jaw
When you eat every day, the chewing puts pressure on your teeth, which translates down the root into the jawbone, where the pressure signals the jawbone that it needs to continue to create new bone cells. If you’re missing a tooth, you’re missing pressure on the bone, so it eventually begins to atrophy and lose mass. You might even notice that the change in jawbone structure is leading to the shape of your face changing.
A missing tooth can also change the way you chew; the change in pressure on your jawbone can stress the hinge in your jaw, causing a sore jaw, headaches, and even temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
The bottom line? If you’re missing a tooth, you should seek to replace it as soon as possible. Call our office to schedule an appointment, or use our easy online scheduler to request your own time. Don’t wait — you don’t want to end up with a worse problem!