Missing Teeth Can Make You Miss Out
It is very common to have missing teeth – sometimes we are born without permanent teeth, or maybe an accident or a dental issue has caused us to lose a tooth. In addition to the unsightly gap and the embarrassment many people feel due to missing teeth, there are other side effects that can affect much more than just how you look. There have even been studies that show that missing teeth can be linked to depression and poor job performance.
The most obvious health effect related to missing teeth is difficulty when eating and chewing. Many healthy foods – carrots, apples, even whole-grain cereals – can cause pain when your chew where teeth are missing, forcing you to either skip those healthy options or to chew in a different part of your mouth. Shifting your chewing pattern can create additional wear to teeth that might not otherwise experience this strain and can lead to damage elsewhere in your mouth.
The empty space left by a missing tooth can also cause your other teeth to shift or move. This creates “malocclusion”, meaning that your teeth don’t meet properly and don’t work in concert the way they are supposed to, which can lead to pain, headaches, and even tooth damage. Bite misalignment can make it hard to sleep or eat, and can lead to premature loss of your other teeth.
Missing and shifting teeth contribute to changes in your speech pattern as well, making it more likely that you or your child may develop a speech impediment. Without teeth to help, the tongue does not have the same structures to create words, and you may find yourself lisping or having a hard time enunciating. Add this to a gap that makes you feel self-conscious when you smile and you may find your self-confidence eroding as well.
Another side effect of missing teeth is bone loss. As your facial muscles atrophy from the absence of the tooth, tissue decreases and weakens and bone loss follows. Not only will the loss of bone cause your facial structure to collapse and change, it can make it harder for you to correct tooth loss with dentures or implants if allowed to progress. Bone loss can make your face look older as the skin and muscles shrink in around missing teeth.
Fortunately, there are ways to replace teeth that can put an end to symptoms like bone loss and shift and restore your smile and chewing alignment. If you have lost a tooth or have a tooth that is loose due to an injury or another health problem, visit your dentist immediately so that the issue can be assessed. They may need to perform x-rays to determine the extent of the damage.
Once the problem has been identified, your dentist can discuss the best solution with you. Your dentist may suggest a bridge, dentures, or a dental implant. When possible, your dentist can perform a dental implant which will replace the tooth completely and act exactly like a normal tooth, restoring your tooth and preventing all of the symptoms normally associated with tooth loss. In the event that a dental implant cannot be used, you may be a candidate for a bridge, which uses existing teeth as a support, but will likely need to be replaced over time.
You cannot prevent all forms of tooth loss, but good dental care can help you avoid many of them. Regular checkups and good brushing habits make it possible to spot problems before they result in tooth loss, and allow your dentist to provide the best options available to you in the event that missing teeth are unavoidable. If you have a loose or missing tooth, contact us today and we will be happy to help!