Missing Teeth Cause Bone Loss, Tooth Migration, & More
Missing teeth create more than an unsatisfactory smile. Thankfully, with few exceptions, regardless of the reasons for missing teeth, there are options to restore your smile and help you regain self-confidence. But what are the reasons you have missing teeth, and what happens if you don’t do anything about it? Read on to learn all you need to know if you have missing teeth.
The causes of missing teeth
Missing teeth in adults is far more common than you might realize. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 25% of adults aged 65 or older have eight or fewer natural teeth. Most adults have 32 teeth once all of their permanent teeth come in. Yet, adults 20 to 64 years have an average of 25.5 remaining teeth. What are the causes behind this staggering statistic?
Unfortunately, there are many reasons why you may experience missing teeth. The most common causes are as follows.
- Gum disease
- Dental trauma or injury
- Various behavioral risk factors including smoking, poor nutrition, poor dental hygiene, and lack of dental care
- Genetic risk factors such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma, emphysema, rheumatoid arthritis, liver problems, or a disruption of blood flow to the brain (stroke)
Despite the reasons you have missing teeth, not doing anything about it can lead to bigger problems down the road.
The risks of missing teeth
It’s likely already clear that missing teeth can affect your smile, especially if the missing teeth are near the front of your mouth. Your teeth are designed to work together, so missing teeth can cause other problems, too.
1. Inefficient chewing and improper speaking
When you are missing one tooth or multiple teeth, it can have negative consequences on your ability to speak properly and chew your food adequately for proper digestion. As it becomes more challenging to chew your food, you may start to compensate by chewing on only one side. This can result in injury to your jaw and facial muscles. And your teeth are vital for your speech. As an example, missing your front teeth can cause an inability to produce fricative sounds (e.g., /s/, /z/, /f/, /v/, /th/, /sh/) and affricate sounds (e.g., /ch/, /j/).
2. Change to your facial structure
Though you might have had a defined jawline in the past, if you are missing teeth, it can change the shape and alignment of your jawbone. Your jaw might start to sag as the muscles around your face are no longer able to support it. The lower half, in particular, will experience a change, making it look like you are unhappy as it provides a perpetual frown. This process is referred to as bone resorption. When you have missing teeth, the body thinks that the calcium from those missing teeth is no longer necessary. As such, bone growth comes to a halt.
3. Teeth shifting
Another negative consequence of missing teeth is that the teeth adjacent to the gap left behind can start to shift into the opening. Unfortunately, this isn’t a comfortable process, nor is it healthy for you. In fact, when your teeth shift, it is bad for your dental health. Teeth shifting can lead to tooth decay and gum disease, not to mention further changes to your facial structure.
4. Gum disease and cavities
When your remaining teeth start to shift in your mouth, it can cause misalignment and crowding. Teeth that are too close together are hard to brush properly, and it can be hard to get that tooth floss between the teeth and gums. When food particles are left behind, it turns into dental plaque and eventual calculus (dental tartar) which contributes to tooth decay.
What to do about your missing teeth
Dental implants are an increasingly popular cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatment as they look and act just like your natural teeth. With dental implants from Oxley Comprehensive Dentistry, your smile will be restored and your jaw bone will be stimulated and preserved. Though dental implant treatment is invasive and more expensive than other options, it serves as a substitute for the root of your missing tooth. An abutment, also called a connector, is placed on, or built into, the top portion of your dental implant. This abutment connects to the replacement tooth, and the crown is custom created to match your natural teeth.
A dental bridge may also be a solution for you if you have a missing tooth. A dental bridge consists of crowns that sit on either side of your missing tooth, supporting the false tooth (pontic) that is cemented into the gap. Some patients prefer the dental bridge because it is less invasive than dental implant surgery. Different from implants, dental bridges do not replace the root of your tooth. Instead, and as described above, they use your surrounding teeth as a support so that a false tooth can fill the missing space.
Let Oxley Comprehensive Dentistry help replace your missing teeth.
If you have missing teeth, it’s time to make a change. Request an appointment with Oxley Comprehensive Dentistry today to discuss your treatment options. Your teeth are precious, so let us help you restore and protect them for the rest of your life.