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How a Missing Tooth Damages Your Oral Health

Teeth are meant to last a lifetime, but still, people lose them all the time. Injuries, age, illness, and decay all plot against your teeth, which means that you end up with fewer teeth than when you started. In fact, it’s estimated that in the US, about 178 million are missing at least one tooth, and 40 million have lost them all.

For some people, the gap left behind by a missing tooth is an aesthetic nightmare, and others think it’s kind of cool. But there’s more to a missing tooth than meets the eye. Our team here at Brite Dental Spa in New York, New York, sees the consequences of lost teeth and how the problem impacts your oral health.

Here’s what can happen if you lose one or more of your teeth.

Missing teeth and your oral health

At first blush, it might sound odd to hear that something that’s not there can have any influence at all on your mouth. But the absence of any or all of your teeth actually makes a huge difference.

There are three main ways that missing teeth impact your oral health:

1. Your natural teeth suffer

Your teeth need each other. Ideally, all your teeth line up in straight rows — not too crowded, not too spacious — and they work together to tear, grind, and crush your food. Space created by a lost tooth is an open invitation for the neighboring teeth to slide over and take up residence. 

Shifting teeth often become crooked, which leads to alignment problems. Gums become loose, and bacteria set up shop, creating a perfect environment for gum disease. Even one missing tooth can trigger a chain reaction of dental problems.

2. Your chewing changes

Just like when you swerve to avoid a pothole when you drive, your mouth automatically avoids the “pothole” in your teeth. Depending on the size and location of your gap, you may tend to chew on one side or another or favor the front instead of the back. 

These changes may seem insignificant to you, but over time, they begin to affect your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in your jaw. The muscles begin to tighten and seize, click and lock — symptoms of TMJ disorder

What’s more, when your chewing changes and becomes less efficient, it impacts your digestive system. After all, digestion begins in your mouth and relies not only on your saliva but also on proper food processing. If a missing tooth causes you to chew less effectively and swallow prematurely, it can lead to acid reflux and other gastrointestinal issues.

Finally, missing teeth that make chewing difficult may cause you to avoid certain foods or food groups, which leads to nutrient deficiencies and related health conditions.

3. You lose bone density

Your jawbone relies on the pressure your teeth exert every time you chew. Chewing stimulates nerves and triggers cell regeneration. So, when you have a blank spot in your row of teeth, the bone beneath it gradually loses density.

What to do about your missing tooth

The best way to avoid all these oral health issues is to replace your missing tooth with a dental implant. During this procedure, we place a small titanium rod into your jawbone, which replicates the root of your missing tooth. Over time, your jawbone will fuse with the rod and respond to chewing pressure just as if a natural tooth were still in place.

We attach a temporary crown on top of the post with the help of a small abutment. In a couple of weeks, your permanent crown comes back from the lab — a perfect match for your unique mouth and tooth color. 

Dental implants, whether singles or a group of several, allow you to chew and speak naturally. And they are virtually undetectable. There’s no shifting to worry about and no special care instructions. Just brush and floss normally. 

If you’re missing a tooth, don’t risk oral health problems. Dental implants are the gold standard for solving the problem of missing teeth. And you’re in great hands here at Brite Dental Spa. Our team includes a board-certified oral surgeon, endodontist, and implant specialist, so you’re guaranteed complete care from your gums to your jawbone. To arrange an appointment, call us, text us, or use our online tool today. 


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