Residents in Portland, Oregon Ask: What Are the Consequences of Missing Teeth?
Updated: Oct 14
When a tooth is severely damaged or decayed, it sometimes must be removed in order to protect the health of a person’s surrounding teeth and overall oral health. Unfortunately, dental issues will not end simply because the problematic tooth is gone, unless the tooth is also soon replaced! A single missing tooth leads to a multitude of negative consequences throughout the mouth and body.
Ability to Speak and Eat Properly
Missing a tooth (or several) will affect our ability to pronounce words correctly, or may cause a whistling sound when you speak. And since we also need our teeth to eat, missing teeth also interfere with our ability to chew properly. As a result, people with missing teeth can develop digestive issues like acid reflux, or sometimes resort to consuming soft foods only, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
Affect to Appearance
Whether or not a missing tooth is in a visible area when you smile, missing teeth will change your appearance. Without teeth being in place to support the facial features and muscles, the face may begin to look distorted, with sunken cheeks and wrinkled skin around the area of the missing teeth.
Jaw Bone Loss
Our healthy tooth roots simulate and support jaw bone, and when a tooth is gone the bone will begin to shrink away - a process called bone resorption. Gum recession can also occur. Missing teeth in the back upper jaw will cause the sinus cavity above to expand and erode the jaw bone.
Alignment and Bite Issues
The teeth around the area of the missing tooth will begin to shift into the gap and/or loosen, and the tooth opposite of the empty area can over-erupt (“lengthen”) because it has no opposing tooth to rest or chew against, which can damage the opposite gum. A single missing tooth will eventually cause a “domino effect” of alignment issues and numerous further potential oral health issues.
Further Oral Health and Physical Issues
Misaligned teeth and improper bite (malocclusion) cause increased stress on opposing teeth, which can lead to higher risk of worn teeth, sensitivity, tooth fracture and damage, tooth decay. And due to increased stress to the jaw joint, a person with bite issues may also develop frequent jaw and neck pain along with headaches.
A missing tooth or teeth can affect our self-esteem, confidence, ability to eat and speak, and have many further ill-effects for our mouth and body. For the sake of our patients’ oral and overall health, we always recommend replacing a missing tooth! Thanks to modern dentistry, there are many great tooth replacement options available. We can help you choose which one suits you best, and develop a treatment plan so that you can get back your beautiful and healthy smile!
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