Most adults have 28 permanent teeth (assuming they’ve had their four wisdom teeth removed). But while you may think you essentially have 27 “spares,” that’s not quite how it works! It’s common to think that a single missing tooth isn’t a big deal, but you would be surprised at how it can impact your oral health and general well-being. In addition, many people see extractions as an easier, less expensive solution compared to other types of dental work, but it can actually cost you more in the long run to repair the problems created by a missing tooth. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What happens if I don’t replace a missing tooth?”, keep reading to find out!
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T REPLACE A MISSING TOOTH?
Everyone needs a full set of teeth for good oral health. This is why, when necessary, dentists will encourage you to get recommended treatment such as dental fillings or crowns to repair problems and prevent tooth loss. Having said that, sometimes an extraction is the only option. In these cases, replacing the tooth will prevent painful and costly problems down the road. If you choose to leave an empty space, you put yourself at risk for the following:
- Your other teeth will start to move and shift. This leads to bite alignment issues, uneven wear from chewing, and TMJ problems. The remaining teeth also become more susceptible to gum problems and cavities.
- After a tooth is extracted, your body begins to “reabsorb” the jawbone that once surrounded the root. As your jawbone deteriorates, you’ll start seeing changes in your facial structure and appearance.
- A gap in your smile can lead to less self-confidence and a lower self-image.
- Depending on the location of your missing tooth, you may find it harder to eat comfortably or speak clearly.
WHAT ARE YOUR OPTIONS TO REPLACE A MISSING TOOTH?
With modern dentistry, there are fantastic treatment options for every situation. A traditional bridge or partial denture (sometimes called a “flipper”) can replace a single missing tooth. However, these options only replace the crown (the visible portion you see above the gumline), which leads to several drawbacks such as the bone loss mentioned above.
Alternatively, you can get a single dental implant, which will replace the entire tooth structure (root and crown). This will prevent all the problems mentioned above and give you a replacement tooth that looks and feels very natural.
Patients of all ages need a full complement of teeth for a smile that looks great and functions properly. After replacing a missing tooth, you can look forward to great dental health for many years!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. Terry Rigdon has been recognized as a leader in implant dentistry and has Diplomat status from the American Board of Oral Implantology. He offers his patients multiple ways to restore their smile after tooth loss, including bridges, dentures, and dental implants. If you’re interested in replacing a missing tooth and have any questions, he can be reached via his website.