11 consequences of not replacing missing teeth

So, you have a missing tooth. It may have come from an impact injury, decay or a tooth infection. It doesn’t matter how you got the missing tooth (or teeth), but dental implants are a sensible choice for replacing single or multiple teeth. However, not getting teeth replaced can cause many consequences for your teeth.

These consequences can affect not just how your teeth look but how you use them. In addition, not replacing missing teeth can also lead to losing other teeth down the track. So, let’s look at 11 consequences of not replacing a missing tooth, starting with the ‘big ones’ and working our way down.

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The big ones 

Losing a tooth can affect your future oral health.

1. Further tooth loss

Losing one tooth can cause you to lose others. The jawbone around the site of the missing tooth starts to shrink, giving less support to the remaining teeth. Therefore it becomes easier for your teeth to simply fall out.

Your teeth also rely on the contact of other teeth to remain in position. A lost tooth means that support is gone, increasing the chance of yet more teeth falling out.

2. Shifting teeth

When you lose a tooth, the remaining teeth move around more. Without that missing tooth to support surrounding teeth, the remaining teeth will move closer together. 

When teeth become too close to each other, it becomes harder for you to floss effectively. Ineffective flossing can lead to the build-up of plaque, as well as gum disease, decay and the loss of other teeth.

3. Cracked teeth & tooth decay

When teeth move, the enamel surface of the teeth can become fractured.

A cracked or broken tooth surface can be a surefire way for plaque and bacteria to enter the tooth, causing decay, cavities and more intense tooth damage, which may require root canal surgery.

 4. Bone loss

Not having a complete set of teeth can cause the jawbone itself to deteriorate. Lost bones will affect the shape of your face, cheeks and even your lips.

Lost or reduced jawbones also increase the chance of more of your teeth falling out. You may need costly bone grafts to fix the situation.

The painful ones

Having missing teeth can cause significant pain.

5. TMJ disorder

Not having a complete row of teeth can make your temporomandibular joint (TMJ, the joint which connects your jawbones to your skull) work harder. The extra strain on the joint may cause pain in day-to-day activities like smiling, yawning, eating and speaking.

In addition, TMJ disorder can take some time to resolve and can be an expensive process.

6. Bruxism (tooth grinding) 

When a tooth is missing, other teeth can work harder to chew on behalf of the missing one. This extra effort can affect other teeth and muscles within the oral cavity, often causing early erosion of remaining teeth due to overwork and teeth grinding.

7. Sinus issues 

If you lose your teeth towards the upper back of your jaw, the sinus cavity above your teeth can expand. The jawbone separates the sinus from your mouth, and a missing tooth weakens the bone.A larger sinus cavity may increase the frequency of sinusitis symptoms, including headaches, tiredness and a loss of smell.

8. Changes to facial structure 

Your teeth are vital support elements for the lower half of your face. If you lose a tooth, the gum area recedes. With a loss of gum tissue, your face muscles will begin to sag over time. When your face muscles change tone, the entire outward appearance of your face can change as well.

The obvious ones

These are the consequences you probably already know about.

9. Speech problems

Along with your tongue, your teeth help you make sounds for speech. If you’re missing a tooth or teeth, you’ll need to change how you speak to make the same speech sounds. However, you may use different muscles, and the extra effort in using these unfamiliar muscles may cause fatigue. 

10. Food concerns

If you have missing teeth, you may need to change how you eat. A lost tooth means you can’t chew food properly. Improperly-chewed food can be harder to digest as it moves along the gut, causing digestive issues.

Missing teeth also means you may be unable to eat certain foods, such as sticky or hard foods.

11. Lower self-esteem 

When people have lost a tooth or multiple teeth, they may not feel happy about how their smile or facial structure looks. People may feel embarrassed about or uncomfortable with their appearance

So why come to us?

We want the people of Mornington to have happy, healthy smiles. That’s why you’ve made the first step to restoring your smile and safeguarding the future of your teeth by coming to our dental surgery. We’re the dentists who care. So when you come to us, you know we’ll do the best we can to make sure you have your teeth for life. You’ll come out smiling, and we hope you’ll love us for it.