If you have lost one or more teeth recently, you may well be tempted just to leave the gaps rather than replace the missing teeth. However, this choice can more than a few complications in the mouth later on, often cascading over one another. The potential problems are many, but for now, let’s look at five of the most common oral issues caused by missing teeth.
1. Teeth shifting in the mouth
Your teeth may feel immovable in your mouth, but the fact is your teeth are designed to rely on the other teeth in your mouth to hold them in place. When a missing tooth leaves a gap, the adjacent teeth can gradually drift to fill in space, affecting your smile and making it more difficult to chew your food.
2. Deteriorating jaw
Your teeth and jaw actually need a certain amount of opposing pressure and stimulation to stay strong and healthy. This stimulation comes from your natural bite and from chewing your food. When a missing tooth disrupts this interplay, your jaw can begin to shrink and break down, resulting in bone loss. This de-strengthening of the jaw can lead to many other problems and diseases.
3. Gum disease
Open gaps in the tooth line, combined with the moisture and warmth inside your mouth, create an optimal environment for harmful bacteria to begin growing along the gums and teeth. At best, this can result in painful irritation and inflammation from gingivitis; at worst, it can cause serious infections that if left untreated can cause more tooth damage and affect your quality of life.
4. Facial deformities
Your teeth do more than just help you chew food; they are part of the skeletal structure that gives your face its shape. When you leave gaps in your bite, especially with multiple missing teeth, your lips and skin won’t be supported properly and may begin to sag and droop. This, combined with bone deterioration, can cause facial deformities that affect the way you look and even the way you speak.
5. Further tooth loss
As part of the cascade effect from the previously mentioned oral problems, your remaining teeth themselves begin to lose support as they shift in the mouth, experience less support from the jaw and suffer from the effects of gum disease. Eventually, this may result in the loss of additional teeth, adding to the problem even more.
As you can see, leaving a gap from even one tooth can result in a series of unintended consequences, none of which are good for your overall oral health. The good news is that there are a number of solutions to replace missing teeth that can keep your smile and oral health intact. To learn more about these options, call Riverside Oral Facial Surgery at (706) 235-5570.