For people who have lost one or more teeth, the temptation is not to replace them — just to leave the gaps and get used to them. Perhaps it’s a concern about cost, or perhaps fear of possibly painful dental procedures — or even an aversion to dentists in general. However, the risks of not replacing missing teeth can actually cost more in the long run — not only in money, but also in general health and well-being down the road. Let’s look at some of the consequences of avoiding this issue.
Your teeth are designed to function together — to keep each other in place while helping you chew your food and supporting your smile. When teeth go missing, the remaining teeth begin to shift along the jawbone, creating even wider gaps between your remaining teeth. As a result, the teeth have even less support, it becomes more difficult to chew food, and more teeth may be eventually lost.
Your jawbone is designed to thrive under the ongoing pressure of biting and chewing. When you don’t replace missing teeth, the section of the jawbone underneath those missing teeth doesn’t get the pressure or stimulation it needs, and it eventually begins to shrink and wither — a very real use-it-or-lose-it scenario. Not only can this change the structure of your face, but the bone loss can also weaken your remaining teeth, causing the loss of additional teeth in a cascading effect.
Gum Disease and Infection
As your remaining teeth begin to shift, it becomes more difficult to brush and floss them. The open gaps encourage the growth of plaque and bacteria, increasing incidents of gingivitis and other painful infections.
You use your teeth to pronounce words properly. When teeth go missing and don’t get replaced, your manner of speaking may change for the worse — you may develop a lisp, find it more difficult to say certain words, and even your voice may change.
A weakened chewing ability means you may not be able to eat certain foods. For many people, they don’t find a way to replace the nutrients in those foods, resulting in malnutrition and a lowered quality of health.
If you avoid replacing missing teeth due to the cost, consider that the resulting complications we’ve described above are even more costly to fix. In the long run, replacing your missing teeth will cost much less than leaving those gaps.
There are many possible options for replacing those teeth and preserving your dental health. To learn more, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery a call at (706) 235-5570.