What happens if I don’t replace a missing tooth?

October 1, 2017

Missing teeth don’t just affect your appearance. Whether you’ve lost a tooth at the front or back of your mouth, these gaps can put unnecessary pressure on your other teeth and subsequently put your oral health at risk. That’s why it’s important to talk to your dentist about the different options for filling the gaps and restoring your smile.

What problems can missing teeth cause?

The most obvious effect of a lost tooth is on your appearance, but if you delay or avoid getting treatment, there can be more serious problems for your oral and general health. These can include:

  • Crooked teeth – Your teeth support each other, so when one is missing, the teeth on either side can start to shift into the gap. Over time, this can lead to a crooked smile, bite problems and joint pain.
  • Gum disease and tooth decay – If your teeth shift, you may not be able to reach all their surfaces when brushing and flossing. This allows plaque to form, increasing your risk of dental diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease that could lead to further tooth loss.
  • Bone loss – Your teeth also support your jaw by stimulating bone growth. When one or more teeth are absent, this can cause the jaw to shrink, altering the shape of your face.
  • TMJ disorders – The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that connect your jaw to your skull can be put under strain when your teeth shift out of position, often causing headaches and other pain and discomfort.
  • Changes to your diet – Missing teeth can also make it harder to eat certain foods, which could limit your diet and affect your health.

What if the missing teeth are at the back of my mouth?

Out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind when it comes to your oral health. Just because you can’t see a missing tooth doesn’t mean it won’t cause problems in the long term. Your back teeth (molars) do the most work – the chewing, so losing a tooth in this area could make it harder to eat your favourite foods. It’s equally important to replace any missing teeth, wherever they’re located in your mouth.

What are my options for replacing missing teeth?

Your dentist will discuss all the options for replacing your lost teeth and restoring the look, feel and function of your mouth. They’ll make sure you have all the information about what each treatment involves and how they compare, so you can make an informed decision.

Dental implants

The most permanent solution for replacing a tooth, dental implants are made of strong titanium and are inserted into the jaw to act like a tooth root. The implant is then covered with a crown designed to blend in with your natural teeth. The advantages of dental implants are that they’re long-lasting, not easily damaged and stimulate bone growth in your jaw to prevent it from deteriorating. You can replace a single tooth, multiple teeth or even a whole arch with just implants. It’s important to note that dental implants are not suitable for all patients. An implant can only be placed when there is enough healthy jaw bone present. So when there isn’t enough healthy bone present, the implant can fail. This is why patients with advanced gum disease (periodontitis) may not be suitable candidates for implant surgery. Other risks associated with dental implant surgery include possible sinus problems, temporary swelling, bruising, bleeding and in rare cases infection and nerve damage. A thorough examination and radiographs are taken before a dentist can recommend dental implants as the most suitable option for your missing tooth. This will reduce the likelihood of dental implant failure and help you make an informed decision about your oral health. Find out more about dental implants.

Dental bridge

Bridges are artificial teeth that look and feel like your natural teeth. They’re supported by the teeth on either side of the gap, which are covered by dental crowns. Dental bridges can last for many years when you follow good oral hygiene, but unlike dental implants, they don’t support new bone growth in your jaw.

Partial denture

Modern dentures have come a long way from the false teeth of the past. Partial dentures can replace single teeth or several teeth in a row, and are designed to be the same shade as your natural teeth. However, like bridges, they don’t offer support for your jaw.

Talk to a dentist in Melbourne

If you have a missing tooth, get in touch with All Day EveryDay Dental to make an appointment with our qualified dentists in Brunswick or Kew. We’ll explain what these treatments involve so you can make a choice you’re happy with. Call us on (03) 9853 1811 or send an online enquiry.

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